Orders of the Day — Coal Mines Bill.

– in the House of Commons at on 6 February 1930.

Alert me about debates like this

Again considered in Committee.

[Mr. DUNNICO in the Chair.]

Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

6.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Vernon Hartshorn Mr Vernon Hartshorn , Ogmore

The miners in this House and the officials of the Miners' Federation are absolutely united—there is no sort of division between us—in saying that the proposal of the Opposition is one to which we cannot under any circumstances give our assent, and we shall feel compelled to offer our stoutest opposition. There does not seem to me to be anything very mysterious about the position in which both the Government and the Opposition find themselves. The Government's position is simply this: In 1926 the Government of that day passed an Act making possible the working of miners underground for eight hours a day on every day of the year. Prior to that, they could only be legally employed for seven hours a day except on 60 days in the year. The 1926 Act said that 60 days should be extended all the year round and it should be an eight-hour day in future, as it was before the 1919 Act was passed, which made seven hours the legal maximum. At the last Election the Labour party made it absolutely clear, as we made it clear in 1926, that if we were returned in sufficient power to repeal that position we should do so, and should revert to the seven-hour day. The Government pledged themselves to pursue that policy. Having gone into the matter since the Election, they have come to the conclusion that it is desirable to approach the ultimate goal of seven hours in two stages, to get back to seven and a-half now and allow the Bill to run its course and in June, 1931, the seven-hour day will automatically be reverted to.

The position taken up by the Opposition is equally clear. They say, "We realise that this seven-and-a-half hour-day is going to pass and, as far as the limitation is concerned in the way the Government have proposed it, there is a chance of getting it through the House but, if we must accept something of that kind, the best thing for us to do is to try to get round it. We have failed in our frontal attack. Now we must see what we can do by a flanking movement, and the real meaning of the Amendment is that it shall be made possible for at least 11 days in the fortnight to work an eight-hour shift. If this provision was in operation, and next Monday morning the miners at any particular colliery were told there was no work to do, for the next 11 days the Amendment would say," Now you must work eight hours a shift." That is exactly the difference between the position of the Government and that taken up by the Opposition. I was very surprised to see the names of two right hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway attached to this Amendment, because on the Second Reading they indicated, that as far as the frontal attack was concerned, they were not prepared to take part in it, and I hope they have associated themselves with this Amendment without realising to the full what it involves, because if they do realise what it really means, they are trying to undo what was done by the defeat of the Opposition on the Second Reading. We can do nothing but oppose this to the last stage, and I sincerely hope we shall get the support of every humane Member of the Committee in giving the miners a fair and square deal for once. It is not sufficient merely to deal with the statistics of this situation or with the question of costs. This hours' question to us is a human question pure and simple. I am afraid neither the House nor the country fully realises the conditions under which the miners work and the case we can make out in support of this shorter working day.

I should like, to say two or three words in reply to what has been said about the cost of production and its effect upon the industry. We had this in 1926. We were told then, "If you will only increase the hours, reduce the costs, and thereby reduce prices, the effect will be to give a fillip to the steel industry, to expand enormously our export business, to help with general manufactures and lead us along the road of prosperity." The same sort of argument has been used to-day. We repudiated that in 1926, and every fact and figure connected with the industry proved that what we said then was correct. Let us look at the effect it will have on the steel industry. During the last three years, the miners have produced more coal and have received £90,000,000 less in wages than they would have received on the 1925 prices. That is the sacrifice the miners have made under the legislation of 1926—more than 3s. a ton reduction in wages cost. By working longer hours, by putting forth greater exertions and by accepting actual reductions in wages, there has been a decline in the labour costs of over 3s. a ton, and in the three years the miners have suffered a loss of £90,000,000. That is a pretty big contribution to make towards an attempt to bring about prosperity.

I am prepared to admit that if a policy of that kind, pursued over a given period, would lead us in the direction of prosperity, if it could be shown that that was a way in which we could solve our industrial problem, if it could be shown that we could by this process revive industry and absorb the unemployed, no body of men in the country would be more ready to make that sacrifice, and to continue to make it as long as necessary if that prospect were in sight. But we are perfectly satisfied that the problems with which we are confronted are of such a character, and so many of the factors in the solution of those problems are international in character and are outside the control of the House and cannot be solved merely by reducing coal prices, that this attempt to operate this one factor alone is merely imposing an unnecessary and futile sacrifice upon the mining community which cannot possibly accomplish the end which so many Members seem to think will result from it.

There are two tests that can be applied to see how all this sacrifice, this reduction in cost, has affected the steel industry. One test is to see how much coal is consumed in that industry. If there was any revival of trade in the iron and steel industry, it would immediately show itself in the increased consumption of coal, because the iron and steel industry is one of the big coal-consuming industries of this country. If there had been any material improvement in steel we should have seen it in an increased consumption of coal. What is the position? In 1925, when the seven-hour day was in operation, the iron and steel industry consumed, according to the official figures, 21,000,000 tons of coal. [An HON. MEMBER: "Including coke"] Yes. In 1927, after the longer hours had come in and after the reduced price of coal had operated, the iron and steel industry consumed 21,000,000 tons, precisely the same as in 1925. In 1928 the iron and steel industry consumed 21,000,000 tons, again precisely the same figure. I am giving the round figures, as there is nothing in it.

Take another test. If we were getting a revival in the steel trade as a result of this reduction in the price of coal and the enormous sacrifices made by the miners, it would' be shown in our export business. I have been looking at the Board of Trade figures, and I find that our exports of steel and iron and manufactures thereof in 1925 were of the value of £68,000,000. That was when the seven-hour day was in operation. In 1927, after the longer working day and the lower price came in, the value of our exports of those products was £69,000,000. In 1928 it was £67,000,000, and last year it was £68,000,000, practically no change at all. All this sacrifice which has been made by the miners of this country has left our steel and iron trade absolutely-untouched. As far as anything which was aimed at by the operation of this policy of the lengthening of hours and the reducing of costs was concerned, it has left us absolutely untouched, and the whole thing has been futile.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home) this afternoon called attention to our expanding exports. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Runciman) explained how, in a very large measure, that was due to temporary causes which may be very materially affected by other local or temporary causes. I would like to look at the export business in the light of what the longer working hours have done. In 1925 we exported rather more than 50,000,000 tons of coal and we received £50,000,000 for it. In 1927 we exported rather more than 50,000,000 tons of coal and we received £45,000,000 for it. As soon as the miners' wages went down, the money was given to the foreigner. In 1928 we exported about 50,000,000 tons, and we received £39,000,000 for it. In those two years we exported each year the same amount as we exported in 1925, and we gave the foreigner £16,000,000 from the wages of the miners.

A great deal of fuss has been made about the exports of last year. From 50,000,000 tons in 1925, 1927 and 1928, the exports of coal last year went up to 60,000,000 tons. But let us not forget that in 1925 we exported 50,000,000 tons of coal and received £50,000,000 for it. Last year we exported 60,000,000 tons and we received less money for it than we received for the 50,000,000 tons when the seven-hour day was in operation. It is true that with 160,000 fewer miners at work, the miners of this country produced 10,000,000 tons more coal. After all that effort and sacrifice, they produced it for £34,000,000 less in wages. They made that sacrifice. They produced 10,000,000 tons more coal. They received £34,000,000 less in wages. When they had put forth all that effort and made all that sacrifice to produce 10,000,000 tons more coal, we gave it to the foreigner for nothing, and we also gave him a bonus of £2,000,000 for taking it from us. Honestly, I confess, when I consider that the extension of the working day was put on for the purpose of enabling us to get more trade, to revive our heavy metal industries and to expand our exports, and when I look at the results, I marvel that anyone can continue in the light and face of those facts to argue here to-day that we ought not to revert to the position which we occupied prior to the passing of the longer working day.

What has become of this £90,000,000, which the miners have sacrificed in wages? It is not difficult to trace. All the material is available to enable us to find out what has become of it. £30,000,000 of it has gone to the foreigners, £6,000,000 to the railway magnates, £7,500,000 to the shipowners, £10,000,000 to the iron and steel magnates, and I have no doubt that the people of this country will be surprised to learn that £18,000,000 of it has gone to the householders. [An HON. MEMBER: "Or the merchants!"] As far as the miners are concerned, they have sacrificed that £18,000,000 in wages in order that the householders in this country may get their coal so much cheaper. Have the miners ever had any credit or appreciation from the householders of this country? If you talk to the householders, they will say that they have not had it. They will say, "Not only have we not had a reduction in price, but we have been paying more." The simple fact, as far as the miners are concerned, is that £18,000,000 has been taken out of their wages during the last three years to enable the householders in this country to have cheaper coal, and if the householders have not had it, then somebody else has. The miners have lost it. Who is the better in this country for having taken £30,000,000 out of the pockets of the miners and given it to the foreigners? Who is the better for having taken £10,000,000 out of the pockets of the miners and handed it to the steel and iron magnates? I have been asking the representative of the iron and steel workers what increase in wages they have received on account of this, and I am told that they are very much where they were before. That money has been taken either to wipe out losses or to increase the profits of the iron and steel magnates of this country.

Photo of Sir Robert Horne Sir Robert Horne , Glasgow Hillhead

There is not much profit in the steel trade.

Photo of Mr Vernon Hartshorn Mr Vernon Hartshorn , Ogmore

I said that it has been used either to reduce losses or to increase profits. I say that, having regard to the totally inadequate wage of the miners, neither the steel magnates, the railway kings nor any other people are entitled to call upon the miners of this country to pay part of their wages bill. What has happened in the last few years is that they have footed that bill to the tune of £90,000,000. I have no hesitation in demanding this Measure as a measure of justice for the miner. We do not in the least hide from the House and the country the fact that we shall go on until we get the seven-hour day as a mere measure of justice. I wonder how-many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have given very much time and thought to the conditions under which the miner works. I know his job; I have done it. I know his life; I have lived it. There are 50 men on these benches who have had similar experience, and we know what we are talking about.

There are miners in this country who from the moment they go down the pit until they come back, except on rare occasions when they come back into the roadway, have not only insufficient room to enable them to stand but they have not even sufficient room to enable them to kneel. In some of the seams the men have to do their work and produce coal with one shoulder against the floor and the other shoulder against the roof, and in that position they have to earn their livelihood. One has only to look at the documents supplied at the Commission of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) was Chairman, to find the thicknesses of the seams in every colliery in this country, and to see that the majority of the men employed in the mining industry in this country, all day long, are in a crouching position. They have not sufficient room to enable them to stand upright and they are in the dark from morning till night working under those arduous and hazardous conditions.

Do not forget that every week that passes 20 of these men are killed in producing that coal. Every week that passes 80 of them are maimed or mangled for life, arms torn out, legs torn off, eyes lost, permanently partly disabled. Every week 3,000 of them are more or less seriously injured. There is not a miner in this House who has not seen the blinds drawn in every house in the village in which he has lived. I saw it in the village in which I was born three times before I was 10 years of age. There were three explosions before I was 10 years of age. These are experiences which have burnt themselves into the very souls of the miners. We say that men who are working under those conditions, facing those dangers and making the sacrifices they are making, are entitled to have a fair and square deal between themselves and other members of the community, and to have a shorter working day on account of it. There is not a man on these benches who has worked in the mine who has not had this kind of experience. I have had it more than once—walking to work at four or half-past five o'clock in the morning with a pal and walking back from the pit at half-past eight bringing him home a corpse. These miners are entitled to a bit of extra consideration on account of the conditions under which they work and the great dangers which they are running.

When we talk about a 7½ hour day as the ordinary working day in the mines, it is well to keep in mind what is meant by it. For more than a quarter of a century I have been the miners' agent for a district in South Wales, and from my window I can see the miners going to work. They are supposed to be working an eight-hour day. It is illegal for them to be down the mine longer. But an eight-hour day has been interpreted under the Act to mean that men working in the pits in my own district, where the shift is supposed to be from seven o'clock until three, may go down at six o'clock and come up at four o'clock. Even now they can be underground for 10 hours, because an hour is allowed for each winding. If a miner likes he can go down at six o'clock and remain there until four o'clock. Under the Act 10 hours is possible to-day, and if this Clause is passed they will still be able to be underground 9½ hours, and on an average they will be underground for that time, because an hour is allowed for each winding. I cannot believe that this Committee is indifferent to the claims of the miners for a modification of their working day, and I sincerely hope that when the division is taken this evening, if a division is challenged—I hope that will not be the case—we shall have an overwhelming majority in favour of the Government's proposal.

The right hon. Member for Hillhead suggested an earlier starting on Saturday morning, not a shorter working day, but an earlier start so that the men might finish earlier. To get to work on a Saturday morning our miners have to get up at half-past four or five o'clock. In other parts of the country they start at three and four o'clock, but, in any case, it is a common thing all over the country for the miners, not once in a while, not on a morning now and then, but every day through their life, to get out of bed at four o'clock and 4.30 and walk in the darkness to their work. They do not see the sun until they come up; and the suggestion in the Amendment is that these men shall be told to get up earlier and start their day's work earlier. Friends; if hon. Members in the Committee will allow their sense of fair play to operate, they will say, "We should not like to do it ourselves, and if we were compelled to do it we should not think we were getting fair play from the rest of the community." That is our demand; and I hope, when the question has been fully discussed, that this Committee will show its sympathy with the miners' aspirations for a shorter working day and will support the Government.

Photo of Mr John Colville Mr John Colville , Midlothian and Peeblesshire Northern

I hope we shall continue to carry on this Debate in the spirit which operates at the moment. We are discussing what, to my mind, is the most important part of the Measure, and if we continue to consider the question in this fair manner we shall arrive at the right solution. A few months ago, in October, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking at Leicester, used these words: An immediate return to the seven-hour day would inflict grievous disaster on the industry; pits would be closed down and miners would be thrown out of work. I urge the Committee to ponder earnestly on the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and to consider whether a return to the 7½-hour day may not, to some extent, bring disaster to the industry, cause pits to be closed down and miners to be thrown out of work. The hon. Member for the Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) referred to some districts as the more backward districts. I think he was referring to Scotland. As to Scotland, I must say that I fear the consequences of this Measure because of the effect it will have not only on trade generally but on the miners themselves in Scotland. I do not see, and I say it with great sincerity, how this proposal can be carried through in Scotland without raising, at any rate, a wage crisis; and there is not a Member of the Committee who desires a wage crisis in the mining industry at the present time. In those areas which are described as backward areas, that is where they are working the full eight hours now, and particularly in those areas in Scotland where mechanical means are largely used, the proposals in this Bill will mean a big increase in costs. That increase will have to be met somehow, and it holds over the whole industry in that particular district the possibility of a grave wage crisis.

Look at the other side of the picture. During the last few years the men have been working hard to restore the industry. Output has increased per man, and they are approaching a time when, if they were left alone, they would have been entitled to share under the ascertainment in the profits of the industry. Those who bring forward these proposals are not doing a good turn to the miners in those districts, because they are postponing for an indefinite period the opportunity of better wages for the men. These men would be entitled to share in the improvement in the industry which they have worked hard to bring about, but by a reduction in hours, and a consequent increase in costs, that time is being indefinitely postponed. That is a point which the Committee should consider. The Amendment is intended to neutralise the harm which will be caused by the proposal in the Bill. As far as those districts are concerned which would be affected worse by any increase in costs under the 7½-hour proposal, the Amendment of the right hon. and learned Gentleman would obviate that increase. Instead of a charge of 1s. 6d. being added, a negligible amount, a few pence, may be added by the Amendment. What does that mean? It means that as far as the miners are concerned, the risk of a wage crisis is removed, and it brings them nearer to the time when they will be entitled to share in the improvement in the industry by an increase in wages. For that reason, I ask the Committee to consider the point of view of miners in those areas where the costs will be increased by this Bill.

Hon. Members opposite claim to speak directly for the miners. Have the miners had the point put to them directly that in these districts they will not see better wages for an indefinite period? I claim that it should be put to them, because that is the true effect of the Bill as drafted. The whole reason for Part I of the Bill is to obviate that, and to raise the money to obviate it. Some of us are sceptical as to how Part I will work. Some of us are frankly sceptical as to how amalgamation will work out. Last night, when speaking on the question of the steel and iron industries, I said that unless you could increase markets generally, rationalisation would become rationing, and that is what I fear will take place under the present Bill. That will not raise the money to compensate the miners for the increased costs, which will mean a reduction in their wages. I ask the Committee to give careful consideration to the Amendment. It is put forward in order to assist the Government to get out of their difficulty. They have given a pledge to reduce hours. On the Second Reading of the Bill we expressed our views on that matter. The Bill passed Second Reading, and the Government intend to carry out their pledge to reduce hours. Their proposals will inflict grievous hardship on the industry, but the Amendment which has been put forward in regard to a reduction of hours will obviate that difficulty, and I appeal to hon. Members in all parts of the Committee to support it.

Photo of Mr George Shield Mr George Shield , Wansbeck

It seems to me that no Debate in this Committee will cast so much reflection upon the commonsen6e of hon. Members as the Debate on the present Amendment. An hon. Member on the other side, by an interjection, said that we were going back 100 years. As far as Northumberland is concerned, in the matter of hours the miners of Northumberland were in a considerably better position 100 years ago than they are to-day. It is not easy to get statistics for that period, but I see from an inquiry which was held by the Government about the middle of the last century that in Northumberland in almost every case the hours were found to be between six and seven per day, and in some cases less. That was in the middle of the last century. Yet here we are in 1930 discussing whether we shall go backwards instead of forwards. I have been very much interested in a statement made from the Front Bench opposite, which was repeated to-day by the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home). Those right hon. Gentlemen seem to be sure that the miners, if consulted, would rather agree to 90 hours per fortnight than to seven and a-half hours per day. In that connection, it is very interesting to have received the following telegram from Mr. Straker, the respected secretary of the Northumberland miners. Hon. and right hon. Members will admit that Mr. Straker knows the pulse of the situation: Northumberland miners bitterly opposed to 90 hours per fortnight. Hours in Northumberland mines have always governed shift or day, and no departure must be made from the seven and a-half hours, plus one winding time. That seems to be fairly conclusive as far as Northumberland is concerned. The right hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. Runciman) said that nothing had been shown of an inhuman character that was calculated to help him to give support to the Bill as it stood. That is our whole case. As one who was working in the mines in 1926, when the Eight Hours Act was placed upon the Statute Book, I say that no greater disservice has ever been done to the mining community than was done at that time. It is all very well talking about there being an increase of 1s. 6d. per ton in the cost of coal, but in considering economics we cannot afford to leave out the human factor, and as one who was at the mines in 1926 and for three years afterwards, I know that for the whole of that time and up to the present time the miners of this country have been labouring under a sense of injustice, which is not calculated to help them to put forward their best efforts.

You cannot judge coal output by a simple sum of arithmetic or by rule of three. It is all very well to say that eight hours per day work produces so many tons of coal and that 7½ hours per day will produce so many tons. That seems a- logical conclusion, but eight hours' work for men who are labouring under a sense of injustice is a very different thing from 7½ hours when the men are labouring under a sense of good will. Therefore, the calculation made by hon. Members as to the increased cost of production will be found ultimately to be inaccurate. I am glad that the right hon. Member for Hillhead said that the coal had not been placed in the ground by us, but that it was where God Almighty had put it. I was very glad to hear that statement. It is the first time that I have heard from the other side of the House that God did put the coal there, for the position would seem to be, judging from the amount of money paid to them, that the royalty owners had placed it there. I have had 40 years' experience in the coal mines, and there is scarcely a colliery in Northumberland where I have not settled the prices. I have settled prices for the getting of coal in Northumberland actually at a less price per ton than the royalty owner received per ton on every ton of coal that came from the mine. Any attitude that we have taken up and any desire on our part to lessen the cost of production from that point of view has always been set aside. It would seem that neither life nor death, neither angels, principalities nor powers must separate the royalty owners from their royalties; they must be paid.

If hon. and right hon. Members opposite wish to reduce the cost of production, there are other ways of doing it than by trying to upset the arrangements in this Bill. During the operation of the Eight Hours' Act, from 1910 to 1918 inclusive, there were considerably more accidents than during the period of the Seven Hours' Act. From 1910 to 1918 inclusive there were 12,669 fatal accidents to men and boys, an average of 1,407 per year. During the operation of the Seven Hours' Act, from 1920 to 1925 inclusive, allowing for the three months' stoppage in 1921, the total number of fatal accidents was 6,597, an average of 1,147 per year. There were 260 more fatal accidents per year during the operation of the Eight Hours' Act than during the operation of the Seven Hours' Act. Our whole case is based upon the inhuman attitude of those who would keep the men longer in the pits than seven and a-half hours. We are suffering from the brutal and inhuman conditions which were imposed upon the miners in 1926. Because of their inability to stand up against the situation, owing to poverty and starvation, they were forced to accept conditions that no man should be asked to accept. What has been the result?

In Northumberland, certain arrangements were made whereby coal-drawing should only take place for part of the 24 hours, but what has happened? Today in Northumberland they can draw coal from early morning till the next morning, and they can send boys down the mine at any period of night or day. At the present time there are boys in Northumberland, of 14 years of age, going from Newcastle and travelling to the northern coalfields, leaving home at 10 o'clock at night, descending the mine at 12.30 midnight, and getting home, because of the distance they have to travel, about nine o'clock next morning, after working all the hours of the night. Fancy, boys of 14 years of age condemned to that! While your children are asleep, our children are condemned to descend into the bowels of the earth. Call it sob-stuff if you will, but I would ask hon. Members to visualise the feelings of a mother who closes the door on her child at 10 or 11 o'clock at night, knowing that for 12 hours that child will be absent, working in the bowels of the earth. We are mortgaging the future as far as our children are concerned, and we cannot afford to do it, by sending our children to work eight and a-half hours in the pits, as at the present time.

The human factor counts for something. I know well the feelings of the men in some of the coalfields of this country. They have not forgotten what took place in 1926, and they are labouring under a sense of injustice. Let them see by the attitude of the House on this question that, for once, legislators are interested on their behalf. Let us refuse to pass the Amendment which has been put forward, and let us go forward and say that as far as we are concerned this proposal is not a concession but is simply giving back to the miners 50 per cent. of what has been owing to them since 1926. That would be the right spirit in which to try to build up the future prosperity of the coalfields. It is in the interest of all of us that the coal trade should prosper. We are not arguing simply for the sake or arguing. We are not putting forward our case from a one-sided point of view. We believe that the good will of those engaged in the industry is essential if the industry is to be prosperous. We believe that by the passing of this Bill we shall help to bring about that good will which is so necessary in the industry. The prosperity of this country has been built up upon the coal trade, and the future prosperity of the country depends upon the coal trade. Continually fighting and seeking to set one class against another or one party in the trade against another will not bring about prosperity. We shall bring about the best results when we let the men who are engaged in the industry see that we are prepared to give them a square deal.


We are considering this afternoon a point of great interest and great importance, and one which touches most closely the miners themselves. It is their daily working life which is in question, and I think the Committee will be guided mainly by the expressions of opinions that it receives from those who are entitled to speak on behalf of the working miners. The Royal Commission on the Coal Industry took that view. In their recommendation they said: We cannot advise the State to go back upon the action taken in 1919, and endeavour to force upon the miners the acceptance of longer hours of work. 7.0 p.m.

At the same time, we threw out a suggestion that the miners might perhaps be willing to agree to a spread of the hours over the week. It was suggested that there would be an economic advantage in having one day off in a fortnight or even in a week, with a corresponding lengthening of daily hours, but it was a question fur the miners to decide whether or not they would desire that arrangement. It appears perfectly clear from what has been said to-day that, at present, at all events, the miners do not desire that; and the House must take those expressions into account. When we visit coalmines we are able to judge, watching the work, how arduous it is and under what uncongenial conditions it must of necessity be conducted—the most arduous and the most uncongenial conditions of any occupation in the country. We go there, we watch the miners at their work under conditions such as have been described by hon. Members opposite, and we come away, but they are there every working flay, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, from the age of 14 to the age of 60 or more, and it is for them to say, as far as the conditions can possibly allow it, in what circumstances they wish that work to be regulated. I came by chance a few days ago across a quotation from the lawyer poet of the 18th century, Sir William Tones, who, speaking for his own profession, wrote: Seven hours to law, to soothing slumber seven,Ten to the world allot, and all to heaven. If seven is enough for a lawyer—

Photo of Mr Frederick Macquisten Mr Frederick Macquisten , Argyll

But he had no practice.


perhaps because he was a poet, but also he was a judge at a fixed salary. Perhaps it was in those circumstances that he wrote that verse. The present hours of work for miners are very much greater than those. We are accustomed here to speak of a seven-hours day and an eight-hours day, but those terms are complete misnomers, and in fairness to the miners we ought to refer to them as the so-called seven-hours day and the so called eight-hours day or as the seven-and-a-half-hours day and the eight-and-a-half-hours day, because the additional winding time makes an average addition to the daily work of half-an-hour. On the 28th of January I put a question to the Secretary for Mines to ask what are the actual working hours now under the present law in the several coal mining districts, and, also, bow much shorter are the hours at the week end in each district. These are the figures of daily working hours, taking some of the chief districts. In Lancashire and Cheshire the figure per day is eight hours and 34 minutes; in South Wales eight hours 30 minutes. That is for each miner working the average daily hours underground. That is bank-to-bank for the average miner to-day in those districts which I have mentioned. In Northumberland and Durham, the hewers work seven hours 52 minutes and the others eight hours 22 minutes, and similarly all down the long list.

With regard to the short Saturday, most people think that, if a miner gets a short Saturday, he gets a half-holiday. The figures, however, are as follow. In Lancashire and Cheshire, they work two hours less leaving a day of six and a-half hours, and in South Wales one hour less leaving a day of seven and a-half hours underground. So all down the list they work half-an-hour, one hour, or, in some cases, two and a-half hours less. In Yorkshire, they work seven hours 59 minutes, half-an-hour less on Saturdays, so that they have less amenity in that direction than any of the other districts. It is a matter of real importance that these men engaged in this occupation shall have proper opportunity for recreation and amusement at the week-end. Those physical and psychological factors are of great importance, and if we consider only the economic factor, we should be making a great mistake. The miners ought not to be put in the position of being compelled either on the one hand to absent themselves from work to the detriment of themselves or their families or on the other hand to forego reasonable opportunities for recreation and amusement. If the miners were to consider, taking into account everything, that it is better to agree with the employers to have a real half-holiday on Saturday or to have one day off a fortnight, that is their concern, and Parliament would be well advised to accede to it.

Our object in all these matters should be to secure the greatest amount of real liberty, and real liberty consists not merely in exemption from laws but in people being able to do what they wish to do. To secure a full measure of liberty does not necessarily mean exemption from State action. For example, in the old days in South Wales, where everybody regularly worked 10 hours a day and sometimes more in the coalfields, the miners, in order to secure a greater measure of liberty in leading their lives as they desired, formed trade unions and by trade union action sought to reduce their hours. Those who advocated the doctrine of laissez faire in those days said trade unions were tyrannical, because they compelled the individual workman to conform to certain rules against his own will. There is something to be said for that, but on the whole they clearly enlarged the independence of the workman by putting him more on an equality with his employer and enabling him to bargain for good terms. But the miners found that by trade union action alone they could not secure an adequate amount of liberty and turned to the State. In 1908, the Government, of which I had the honour to be a Member, introduced a Bill, and I remember 20 years ago doing what little I could to help to pass it into law by speaking from that bench. They turned to the State to secure by State action that Measure which they needed and to which they were entitled. That Act was passed. It extended State action and it imposed more law. In form it was restrictive, but in fact it enlarged liberty. It enabled the people to live their lives as they wished to live them, and, in fact, more law meant more liberty.

What is the position at this moment? It is said that by enlarging the latitude you give the miners an opportunity to agree with the employers and to spread the hours over the week end. In the long run their wages will be better safeguarded if the industry is enabled by these means to become more prosperous. It is said that, if in some districts the miners did wish to work an extra half-an-hour and have a day off a fortnight and both parties, the employers and the miners, were at one, they would not be able to do it, because this House has forbidden it. That seems a reasonable point of view, but, from the standpoint of the miners expressed here to-day, what they fear is that what purports to be an agreement may not really be an agreement, and that what Parliament permitted should be the working hours and genuinely desired should be agreed hours would in fact become the actual hours although the miners did not really wish it—that being free from law in that regard they are still subject to economic pressure. They fear that the day man, for example, losing one day's work a fortnight, may not be repaid by additions to his wages for the remaining 11 days. That may be so or it may not. We cannot tell beforehand at all events if that fear may conceivably be realised. The right hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Hartshorn) pointed out that some employers might use this power in a way which is by no means intended, and that when a mining stoppage takes place, owing to lack of trade or absence of trucks or whatever it may be on a particular day, they may say to the miners, "This is your holiday, and you must now work an extra half-an-hour in order to make that up during the 11 days." It is like the Aberdeen firm who had a commercial traveller who was marooned by a storm in a remote island on the Orkneys and telegraphed for instructions what he was to do and the instructions came, "Begin your summer holidays as from yesterday."

I do not know whether that fear would, in fact, ever be realised, but at all events it is a contingency which is in the minds of hon. Members, and their point is this, as I understand it. If you pass this provision and you say, "Let us agree on this rearrangement of hours by giving scope within the law to do what the miners may wish to do," you will also give scope within the law to their being subjected to economic pressure to compel them to do what they do not wish to do. Now this is really a form of contracting-out in the guise of allowing contracting-in. Always, whenever labour legislation has been before this House, there have been suggestions in the interests of freedom and liberty that people should be allowed to contract out. It is an old issue in connection with workmen's compensation and again in connection with other forms of social legislation. The effect of inserting a provision to allow contracting-out is that the power may be used in a manner completely different to that which Parliament has intended. Therefore, although I agree that there would be a distinct economic advantage in spreading the hours and that the pressure upon the industry of the general shortening of hours might in some degree be relieved and the miners might not be subjected to the same pressure in regard to wages, my conclusion is that it is a matter for them primarily to take into account, and, if they take the view that has been expressed here this afternoon, it is not for Parliament to force upon them a different opinion.

Photo of Mr William Graham Mr William Graham , Edinburgh Central

The case has been so eloquently and fairly stated on both sides of the House that hon. Members will be content if I state the view of the Government in a very short form and leave my hon. Friend the Secretary for Mines, at a later stage, to review the other parts of the discussion. There are one or two features of this problem which, in the light of the negotiations of the last months, I am bound to put to hon. Members before late to-night we proceed to a Division. From some points of view, it is unfortunate that the legislation regarding hours is complicated and not very easy to follow in Parliamentary-debate. But, in short summary, there was the Act of 1908, which was, of course, on an eight hours basis as regards its main operative Clause, Section 3 of that Act permitting the addition of those 60 hours over the year. Then came the Act of 1919, which laid down the seven hours day, and finally that legislation of 1926, which went back to Section 3 of the Act of 1008, took away the limitation of the 60 days, and made it possible to work an additional hour a day or eight hours per day on every working day in the year.

The Amendment which the Government propose in order to give effect to one part of their pledge goes back necessarily to the Act of 1926 and fundamentally to the Act of 1908. As my hon. Friends have pointed out, both at the last General Election and during the long debates in 1926 we made it perfectly clear that the first available opportunity for dealing with coal mines legislation in this House we should take steps to return to the seven hours day. As regards the Amendment which has been moved by the right hon. Member for Billhead (Sir 11. Home), the case can be very clearly and simply stated. Various proposals have been made, not so much in official quarters as unofficially, to the effect that it might be easier, in applying this reduction of half-an-hour and presumably any larger reduction, if there were some system of averaging that change over either a week or a fortnight. Although the term "average" cannot accurately be applied to that state of affairs and still less to the Amendment, the broad idea is to supply some kind of method to ease the economic effect of this change in working hours which the Government proposes under the Bill. So the right hon. Gentleman suggests that if on certain days there is any shortage in the statutory working time which is permissible, that may be made up to the extent of half-an-hour and not more on other days, provided that there is not exceeded by 12 days the aggregate amount which can be worked under this Bill.

I do not dispute on the limited point that there might be a certain argument in favour of an average or even in favour of this proposal, subject always to the conditions which the right hon. Gentleman himself and practically all other speakers have imported into the proposition. They have indicated quite clearly, as did my right hon. Friend who has just spoken, that they can only rest on the agreement of the parties to any proposal of this description, and that if that agreement is not forthcoming it is idle for this House to propose it. May I refer briefly to the long discussions on this point? The official attitude of the Mining Association has always been against any reduction in the working day, and their latest attitude, this: that, according to them, the reduction of an hour means an addition of 3s. a ton in working costs, that is to say, if we were to accept their figures, 1s. 6d. a ton on the basis of half-an-hour, and therefore, if this reduction in hours is carried through, it would be necessary to apply for wage reduction in almost every district; yet if that were averaged over either a week or a fortnight the wage reduction which they would request would be less on the average than it would be on a rigid adherence to the daily basis.

That is the official attitude. The Government took all that into account. But I want to point out, in the first place, the qualification which was contained in my Second Reading speech on this question of hours reduction. That figure of 3s. per ton of additional working costs is a peak figure which has been seriously challenged in very responsible quarters. Moreover, it is not a figure applicable to all coalmining districts in this country. Even if we admitted the figure of 3s., or a figure of 1s. 6d. attributable to the half hour, it is a) peak figure from which there is a downward movement through other districts, and according to representative opinion there would not be that addition to working costs if this half hour were taken off. But I am prepared to say that there would be no need to propose reductions of wages even if the cost were as high as a shilling to 1s. 6d. a ton.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Hartshorn) in what all will agree was a masterly statement of the case, pointed out that the arguments which were used in 1926 and for a long period prior to that, by owners and others, had not been fulfilled, that is that there had been not only this addition to the working hours but also a very drastic reduction in wages—and I have never met anyone who defends those wages to-day. All that had not been sufficient to bring about recovery in the general volume of production in this industry, because it is a central fact that for reasons which I must not elaborate in this Debate, production in this country has settled down to 237, 340, 250 or perhaps 255 million tons per annum. All these changes have been made at enormous sacrifice to the mining community and they have not, achieved the result which right hon. Gentlemen opposite suggested in 1926.

But I want to be fair. There has been a certain improvement in this industry in the last year, but we adhere to the view that other steps which we propose are still needed to bring that improvement to fruition. I am bound to tell the House that at this moment there is no prospect of agreement, so far as I am aware, on the part of the miners' representatives to anything resembling an average system. That was all explored and considered before the Government put this Clause into the Bill. It is quite true that if the two parties to this industry came along at any time and said, "We have reached an understanding in terms of something different from this Clause," any Government of the day would be bound to take that into account. But that is not before the country or the House of Commons at this moment, and so far as the Government are concerned we adhere to this proposal in Clause 9 to reduce the working time by one half-hour. What is the meaning of that? It is, of course, a modification of the Act of 1926, and it means seven and a-half hours plus one winding time, which, as has been explained to the Committee before, means, averaged over the whole country, seven and a-half hours, plus 35 minutes below ground. But it may mean in practice, in many of the mines, much more—up to nine or nine and a-half hours below ground for individual miners.

There never was a problem yet before this House in which one was confronted by such a bewildering variety of conditions as in the mining industry. The mathematical skill that any hon. Member possesses would probably not give adequate explanation of a miner's pay bill In any event, that is the state of affairs We accordingly propose to make this change. Unless there is any intervening legislation before the end of July, 1931, the further reduction to seven hours will operate on that date. The Act of 1926 will automatically expire and the mining community will go back to the pre-1926 position, which will be a seven hours working day, plus winding time or seven hours and thirty-five minutes averaged over the whole country. What is the difficulty that, beyond all question, is still entertained by certain right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite? This Debate has been remarkable in that up to this point not a single Member has attacked the main proposition. Hon. Members have said that there would be certain additions to working costs, but they have not sought to attack the reduction; they have sought rather to average it or work it out on some other basis. What is the Government's cases Quite clearly it is not in the interest of any section of the industry to promote anything at all which will have repercussions on the mining community. But the first point I wish to make to convince hon. Members opposite of is that over a very large part of the coalfields in Great Britain to-day, that is, in the whole of Yorkshire and adjacent territory they are now on a seven-and-a-half hours basis, and they are producing 100,000,000 tons of output, substantially under the conditions that this Bill proposes in hours for the rest of the coal mines production. It may be said that there is a difference between the state of affairs in that vast coalfield, which has only a very small proportion of the export trade, and other coalfields like South Wales and Scotland and one or two more, which depend to an overwhelming extent on the coal which they can send abroad.

Photo of Sir Robert Horne Sir Robert Horne , Glasgow Hillhead

The other coalfields are working on thinner seams.

Photo of Mr William Graham Mr William Graham , Edinburgh Central

That is true to a certain extent, and from some points of view they may not be so up-to-date. As regards the exporting districts, the view of the Government is as follows: We firmly believe that if there is anything resembling good-will in this industry, if the parties can be persuaded to come together, if there is a fair operation of the national Industrial Board which is proposed under the Bill, and an impartial review of the circumstances, it will not be necessary to call upon the mining community for any further wage sacrifice. On the contrary, I should think that the conditions would minister in due course to an improvement in their remuneration.

Dark and difficult as the picture is, there are one or two points which can be summarised in defence of that part of our case. In the export districts there is undoubtedly a certain improvement in the situation. The export of coal is 10,000,000 tons better than it was during the preceding year. A portion of Part 1 is directed to the central problem of enabling coal to be sent from this country to compete at the world's competitive prices. I am not going to anticipate that part. But, assuming that we may change and improve the export trade—I agree that what the right hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. Runciman) said, that the position of the export trade has a preponderating influence on the rest of the trade—that would be an important safeguard to this wages problem. Then there is the effect of derating. I do not dispute that it was under the auspices of the late Government that that was introduced. Its effect on the price of coal production has been estimated at 5d. or 6d. or perhaps even 7d. per ton, but whatever the figure it is plainly a material part of the amount we have to meet, even if we took the maximum at 1s. 6d, and that is the maximum estimate of the increase in working costs in what I may call the peak districts attributable to the reduction of half an hour.

So that, first of all, there is the improvement in the industry. In the second place there is this fact that the estimate is an extreme estimate. There is that contribution of the de-rating scheme. We have never disputed that in the main the safeguard of this half hour's reduction, with no reduction in wages for the mining community, rests on Part 1. It is our case, which we shall discuss later, that our proposals will secure that substantial quantities of coal, which are now being sold either at a loss or unremuneratively, will no longer be so sold, and as long as that scramble continues and that loss goes on it may be there can be no reduction in working hours without some invasion of even the low wages that the miners now enjoy. Accordingly, the Bill provides that there will be between three and four months run of this marketing system before this part of the legislation comes into force. I have said that this is the agreement which was reached by the Miners' Federation, and I should hope that even yet the Mining Association will take a more liberal view of this proposition. But in any case we have the machinery of this National Industrial Board for full analysis of the situation in the event of disagreement, and we hold very definitely the view that this change, or the concession of the half-hour, can be made, in the last resort, without any invasion of the miners' remuneration.

Photo of Commodore Henry King Commodore Henry King , Paddington South

I cannot help feeling that throughout this Debate we have been arguing from different angles. The arguments advanced from the Government side of the House have been based on sentiment, whereas we have been trying to deal with the economic side of the question. I think most of the Members on t5ie Government Benches will give us credit for taking an interest in the miners but we must not take the merely sectional point of view. We have to look at the matter as it concerns the whole industry and from the point of view of the country. We heard in the speech of the President of the Board of Trade an attempt to put an economic argument in favour of this reduction. I submit that it was an extraordinarily weak argument, because the right hon. Gentleman only sought to show that the industry at the present time was on an upward grade and was improving, while, in the same breath, he explained that the improvement was largely due to the efforts of the last Government with regard to hours and to de-rating. The economic improvement in the industry is one of the points which we urge against this interference at the present time. The industry is on the up-grade, but it has not yet reached a paying basis, and that is why we oppose this Bill so strongly. We say that a steady improvement is going on but that prosperity has not yet been reached. It is not the time to interfere with a struggling industry and I emphasise that point, because it is our main reason for opposing the Bill. We think that the industry could right itself if left alone; we fear that this interference will kill the improvement which is taking place and that the industry will be put back into a state of turmoil.

The right hon. Gentleman in one of his arguments said that the difficulty of dealing with this industry was the variation of conditions as between different districts, and even between different pits in the same districts. It is well recognised that the conditions in the mining industry are extremely difficult to deal with, but that is a very strung reason for providing a certain amount of elasticity in legislation of this kind. As these varying conditions exist, the less stringently the industry is tied up by regulations or Acts of Parliament the better for the industry. Elasticity is required to meet the varying conditions. The Eight Hours Act of 1926 was a permissive Act and gave a considerable amount of elasticity and scope for individual arrangements, and, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, under that Act a large number of coal workers—certainly over one-third—are not working the eight hours which some hon. Members opposite claimed would be forced upon them. It was said that the maximum number of hours would always be enforced upon the men; that they had no real power to negotiate and would have to take what was forced upon them. I think that the effect of the Eight Hours Act is entirely in favour of elasticity. Permission was given to work up to eight hours with one winding-time, and yet we find that over one-third of the workers, during the whole of the period since the Act was passed, have been working only seven and a-half hours. That is a strong argument in favour of not tying the industry down too tightly.

We have heard a great deal of sentiment brought into the discussion of this subject. We heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Hartshorn) speak of the sacrifices which the miners have made and of the millions of pounds which, he said, had been taken out of the pockets of the miners for the benefit of the industry. I put it to hon. Members opposite: can they justify their plea that all of this money would have gone into the pockets of the miners had it not been for the lengthening of the hours? They must realise that the condition of the industry when that Act was passed was such that there was no indication that anything like the trade previously enjoyed would continue. There was nothing to justify the hope that employment would continue on the same scale as 1925. We claim that had it not been for the Eight Hours Act passed by the Conservative Government it would have been impossible for the industry to have carried on and the Royal Commission presided over by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) pointed out that the industry at that time, was in such a position that some reduction had to be made in the cost of production. They said that the industry could not be carried on, at the cost of production then prevailing. It has been said this evening, of course, that they advised against an increase in hours, but they realised that the reduction of wages which was necessary, in order to bring the cost of production down to an economic basis, might be so heavy as to render it necessary or desirable to increase the hours.

I am paraphrasing their conclusion but I think I am putting it fairly when I say that they had in mind that the reduction of wages which would have been necessary to bring the cost down to an economic basis, would have been too great. But the reduction of cost was necessary and we claim that, to a very large extent, that reduction of cost has been achieved. We have had certain comparisons of figures to the detriment of the Conservative policy but I would like to compare the cost before the stoppage—the trouble in 1926—and the cost of production at the present time. I take the figure for the June quarter of 1925 before the £20,000,000 subsidy was given and before the disturbance of 1926 arose. I think it fair to take that period because the figures in 1927 are liable to a certain amount of influence from the effects of the seven months' stoppage. In the June quarter in 1925, we find that the net cost of production amounted to 18s. 5d. per ton.

Mr. LEE:

Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman give the figures for the whole of that year?

Photo of Commodore Henry King Commodore Henry King , Paddington South

If the hon. Member refers to the statistical summary he can get those figures for himself. I cannot, at the moment give the whole of the figures.

Photo of Mr John Potts Mr John Potts , Barnsley

Would it not be as well to give us the figures also for the years following 1925?

Photo of Commodore Henry King Commodore Henry King , Paddington South

It might be very suitable to the hon. Member to do so, but it was not in my mind to go on year by year and to waste the time of the Committee by going into a series of figures of that kind. There is nothing to prevent the hon. Member himself from giving the Committee those figures which he considers relevant, but I claim that I am perfectly fair in the comparison which I propose to make. I am going to give the figures and hon. Members can draw their own conclusions. I am dealing with the cost of production and I say that in the June quarter of 1925 the net cost of production was shown as 18s. 5d. per ton, whereas, according to the latest return—the statistical summary issued by the Mines Department—the net cost has been reduced to 13s. 9d. That is a reduction in four and a-half years of 4s. 6d. per ton. I maintain that unless some such reduction had been made we should have been unable to sell anything like the quantity of coal that has been sold. The position has not been wholly satisfactory during those years and some of those years were very poor indeed, in spite of the lower cost of production but, at the same time, it is obvious that the reduction in the cost of production has been of advantage to the industry in selling coal against foreign competition.

I do not wish to give many figures, but it is interesting to see what the effects of the Eight Hours Act have been. In the Second Reading Debate, I was not able to give any figures later than the June quarter, because the figures for the September quarter were not published until, I think, early in this year. The figures for that quarter are more interesting than those of the previous quarter. We find that the coal disposable commercially had increased from 49,500,000 tons to over 56,000,000 tons as between the 1928 and 1929 September quarters, and the exports in foreign bunkers had increased from 16,500,000 tons to nearly 20,500,000 tons. That again shows the very appreciable and desirable improvement in our export trade.

But what is most striking of all is this. It has been pointed out that the industry, in spite of all the Sacrifices made by the workers and the heavy losses sustained by the owners, was still making a loss. In the September quarter of 1928 the debit balance per ton of coal was 1s. 4d., and in the September quarter of 1929 that had been brought down to a debit of just under one farthing, which shows that we are getting very near the balancing line. I maintain that that is a sign of real progress and of real achievement in the development of the industry and the reduction of costs; and that, without doubt, was effected to a large extent by the longer working hours.

Let us take it from the men's point of view, and see what has been the effect on work. Month by month and in recent times over the 12 months, we see an increased number of men being employed and, what is far more satisfactory from the point of the mining Members and of the miners themselves, more shifts per week being worked. That is the great thing, to my mind. The shorts time working hits the miner harder than anything else. When I have been in Durham and talking with regard to wages, their one complaint has been that they might be able to rub along on the actual wage paid, if only they were working full time. That is the great hardship—not only the lowness of the wage, but not being able to get the full number of shifts per week. Therefore, it is of the very highest importance to them that the working hours should increase and show this steady development.

I think it was the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) who was talking about comparative prices, and showing how they had fallen year by year since 1924 or 1925. Those prices, as has already been pointed out, necessarily fell in regard to export coal, because we have to sell against coal produced by our foreign competitors, and there is no question whatever of our coalowners in this country being willing to sell their coal at an unnecessarily low price when they are selling in competition with the foreigner. It is really the foreign competition which has beaten the prices down, but there again we are showing improvement, not only in the amount of exports that we are sending out, but also in the price that we are receiving for them. I do not wish to go back to the stoppage days, but hon. Members will realise that some effort was really necessary to try and win back the export trade which we lost during those seven months of stoppage, a period during which our exports were cut off completely.

With regard to the longer day, that has been spoken of under this Amendment, and trying to keep the eight hour day within the 90 hour week. I have always maintained that the longer day was bound to be more economical. The right hon. Member for Ogmore was telling us of the length of time taken in going down, and he added that it might be possibly an hour at each end of the shift—that a man might be down 10 hours. I was rather interested to turn to the "International Labour Review" of the International Labour Bureau, where they give for this country the individual times spent in the mines by underground workers in 1927. Hon. Members have probably read the report, and know that it is the most recent one. They take the year 1927 for purposes of comparison between the different countries, and for this country they give the individual time spent in the mine as an average of eight hours 19 minutes. We have also to realise that there is a long time taken in travelling below ground. Actually the length of hours spent at the face, the working hours, less breaks, is given as six hours 34 minutes. That, I think, shows clearly that, though we talk about eight and a-half hours or eight hours 19minutes, as they say here, a very considerable portion of that time is taken up in going to and from the place of work.

Photo of Mr Robert Richardson Mr Robert Richardson , Houghton-le-Spring

It is very hard work indeed, going to and fro.

Photo of Commodore Henry King Commodore Henry King , Paddington South

I have had some of it myself, and I would almost sooner be working with a pick than travelling back and forth along some of those roads, but, from the economic point of view, there is the fact that every time a mar goes down there, if he was only going to work one hour, it would take just as long to get to and from his work. The one and a-half or one and three-quarter hours, or whatever it may be, that he has to take in getting there and back, is a standing proposition, whether he, is working seven hours or eight hours, or the actual time at the face, six and a-half hours, as is given in this return. It is perfectly obvious that if that time, say one and three-quarter hours, taken in going to and from the face has to be paid for in the price of coal, it is going to be far more costly if the time of actual work at the face is reduced. If the cost of getting there and back has to be paid for by six hours' work instead of six and a-half hours' work, as at present, it is obvious that the industry is going to suffer a considerable amount of loss.

I thought my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Leeds (Captain Peake) made also a very good point from the men's point of view. It has been said that it is extremely unpleasant and very hard work, finding your way from the pit bottom to the face, travelling along the roadway, and I think that if they could work the one day less and thus be saved one length of travel there and back, that alone would be to a certain extent to their advantage. I would like now to say a word with regard to the question of the 11-day fortnight, because there again I am quite convinced that in many districts they very much prefer—it has been the practice, in fact—when there has been sufficient work, working 11 shifts a fortnight, that is, five shifts one week and six the next, so as to get the free day; and from my inquiries when I have had anything to do with miners, I have found that they appreciated it, where it was in existence, and would sooner have it. I believe they would sooner have that even with the extra half hour on the other day.

I do not expect that to be agreed to by many hon. Members opposite, but let me tell them that in various meetings—I have addressed many meetings of miners in different parts of the country, mostly in the North and in Scotland—I have found that there has never been any real objection to the longer working hour a day. Their chief complaint, in conversation, is always on the irregularity of work and the wages they receive. I have put it as a proposition at many meetings composed of nothing but miners, not altogether friendly to me and many of my views, and I have never had a word of dissent from my proposition that their first desire was to have regularity of work, that their second desire was higher wages, and that the thing they wanted least of all was the decrease in hours.

Photo of Mr Robert Richardson Mr Robert Richardson , Houghton-le-Spring

Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman recall the last Election, when every miners' Member had circulars to get back to the seven hours? If we had not been right, should we have been here now?

Photo of Commodore Henry King Commodore Henry King , Paddington South

I am not going into the question of how the trade union views were obtained, or of how the men recorded their votes, but I have had meetings of over 1,000 of what might be called hostile miners when I first started in, and I have never had a dissentient voice from that proposition which I have just put forward, namely, that what they want first is regularity of work, next increased wages, and lastly, a decrease in the working hours. The hon. Member might wish to put it the other way round. [Interruption.] I maintain that that is the order in which they voted.

We have had a considerable amount of talk on the desirability of international agreement, and I think it may be agreed that there is going to be a very great difficulty indeed in obtaining any kind of international agreement on the number of hours per day that should be worked, and that there would also be extreme difficulty in ensuring that any agreement on a stated number of hours per day would be observed. The general trend of it, from what I believe took place in Geneva, has been so far that it would be better to spread the hours, whatever agreement may be come to, with a maximum over an extended period, either the week or the fortnight, and I certainly understood that the fortnight was more generally preferred, that there should be an agreement on the basis of a maximum per fortnight. I submit to the Committee and the President of the Board of Trade that it would have been very much better for us to get down to that kind of basis which, it seems to us, is going to be adopted by international agreement, and for us to set the example and start it on the fortnightly basis, so that we shall be in a position to enter into an international agreement when the time is ripe.

I want to say only one word with regard to the other part of the Amendment, and that is with regard to starting earlier on Saturday, so as to enable people to get off earlier. I know there is in many parts of the country a strong desire in that direction. When I was at the Mines Department, I even, unofficially, of course, was told by a Member of the House at that time that at certain pits in his part of the world men were illegally going down with a less interval than was required by the Act, so as to get off earlier. I advised him to go into the matter further, which he did, and he then found that there was something in it, but that it was by agreement and really by request of the men themselves, and by full agreement of their trade union officials and the management. It was a little private arrangement, and I, not being of an interfering nature, and seeing that it had not been brought to my notice officially, thought it was a case in which the less known about it the better, because though—


The right hon. and gallant Gentleman ought to have regarded this as confidential.

Photo of Commodore Henry King Commodore Henry King , Paddington South

I am not one of those very narrow-minded persons who interfere when they find that somebody is doing something that is not quite right, and no complaints are being made, and nobody is suffering wrong. I think Government interference is best avoided in such cases.

Photo of Mr Robert Richardson Mr Robert Richardson , Houghton-le-Spring

It has been the custom for over 50 years.

8.0 p.m.

Photo of Commodore Henry King Commodore Henry King , Paddington South

I should be very careful not to let the Secretary for Mines hear that, or he might feel that it was his duty to take official notice of it. But, if that has been the custom for 50 years, if it is generally approved and done by agreement, surely it is desirable that it should be made legal and laid down in an Act of Parliament. If that law is observed so much in the breach as hon. Members seem to think, it is desirable that this Amendment should be made so that it might be made permissible instead of, as at the present, being illegal. I would like to say various things about the longer working day, but I have been led into asides which have made me longer than I intended to be. I would urge on the right hon. Gentleman and hon. Members opposite that in the interest of the men themselves, quite apart from any political action, it will be an advantage to them to be able to spread the hours in order that they can, where agreement is reached, work the eight hours. There are certain districts, more especially in South Wales, where they will have no opportunity whatever of passing any increase in price on to the consumer. They are not going to make the foreigner pay more for the South Wales coal, and it is clear that, if only they are allowed to work the eight hours over a fewer number of shifts, the increase in cost will be very small. If something of that kind is not done, it is obvious that either more pits will be closed in South Wales and more men will be thrown out of work, or without a doubt there will be a necessity for a reduction in wages, and we do not want to see that. I think that this Amendment will be an advantage to the men and to the industry.

Mr. LEE:

I have listened carefully to what the right hon. Gentleman has said, but I have not found whether he is against the seven and a-half hours. The Amendment is an addition to the Clause, and not an alteration of it, and, taking the latter part of his intention in regard to the short day on Saturday, I wonder why he makes a distinction between a miner and the rest of the community, because almost everybody in industry and the professions, and in almost all the trades, have a short day in the week after having a long day in the rest of the week. Some of us have had some experience of this kind of thing. When I first started to work in the pit-, we had a longer day in the week in order to get a shorter Saturday, but it resulted in this, that, if we had to miss a working day, it was a short day that we missed, and having been once bitten, we do not intend to be bitten again. An hon. Member spoke about the better spirit that seemed to be prevailing in the mining industry to-day, and he suggested that it was a good omen for the industry. I agree that one of the things necessary, and very essential to the more profitable working of the industry, is a better spirit between men and owners.

Hon. Members talk of having this spread-over arranged by agreement. Those who are acquainted with the mining industry will confirm what I say when I point out that, when you talk about wage agreements, and permissive working of eight hours, they are not agreements at all. Where everybody is working under a wage agreement, it is not an agreement at all; it is something imposed upon the men and I am convinced that, if you were to get this spread-over by agreement, it would not be an agreement between men and owners, but something enforced on the men by the owners. Therefore, we are not so keen upon the spread-over as we might otherwise be. Then, again, it would take away all the arguments that we have used in the past with regard to the shorter working day.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Runciman) said that we were not objecting to this on the ground of inhumanity. He has listened to plenty of speeches since to know that we are taking that objection to the proposed change. I did not hear the whole of the right, hon. Gentleman's speech but, when I came in, he was talking about inhumanity and the accidents that occur in pits in consequence of the long working day. That kind of thing is very largely aggravated by the introduction of machinery. There is growing up among our men to-day a kind of neurasthenia, such as the ex-soldiers have as a result of their experiences during the War. This is very largely due to the fact that we have more coal-cutting and conveying machinery, with all the consequent noise in the pits. You would not therefore get any great amount of opinion in favour of longer hours in the British coalfields, even though it be only half-an-hour more.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Padding ton (Commodore King) said that it was very difficult to get general agreement throughout the British coalfield because of the great variation in the field. That is one of the peculiarities of the mining industry, but there is quite as much variation in even one of the coalfields as there is in the coalfield as a whole. I come from a place where they are working seven and a-half hours. They have coal seams 16 inches thick, where the men are lying down all the time. An inspector of the Mines Department, seeing these men at work the other day, said, "I fancy you chaps will never need to go to bed, for you are always lying down." The seam ranges from 16 inches to six feet, and you get in that area every conceivable difference, in depth and height of seam and of roof, and in conditions of work. You get almost every variation, and yet inside that area we are working a seven and a-half hours' day. In the last ascertainment, which is later than that of September given by another hon. Member, it shows that we are making a profit of 1s. 1d. a ton under the present wage agreement. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home) talked about a loss of £20,000,000 in the British coal trade. I do not know-how far back he goes to get his £20,000,000, or on what he bases it, but in Derbyshire, in the three months of the last ascertainment, we have a deficiency shown against us of £77,000.

I am convinced that there is no part of the British coalfield where there is any hope of agreement about this spread-over. I agree with what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Paddington said about regularity of work. I do not know where the impression has come from that the men will agree to 11 days per fortnight. If you are going to guarantee us 11 days' work a fortnight, the men, I am sure, will agree to that, but there is a difficulty in that. The men sometimes have to go to work, and after walking three miles to the pit, and two miles down below, perhaps have only one-quarter, or a half, or three-quarters of a day's work. You will have difficulty in getting a great body of opinion among the miners that they should work an extra half-hour. I hope we shall carry this part of the Bill, and do it graciously, and in some measure create a better spirit inside the mining industry.

Photo of Mr Frederick Macquisten Mr Frederick Macquisten , Argyll

There was a phrase which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Hartshorn) accidentally slipped in his speech when he addressed the House as friends, and I hope that that is symbolical of the spirit in which this Debate is carried on, and the feeling which we all have towards the miners in this strenuous industry. Many hon. Members on the other side represent miners, and I am very glad and proud to say that I have often represented them in times of trouble, and I have always tried, as hon. Gentlemen opposite have tried, to see that they get the fairest possible fair play. It is in this particular Section and in this Amendment that one wants to see that they do get the fair play which the right hon. Member for Ogmore desiderated. Some years ago the railwaymen managed to become a sheltered industry; there are many in the country, and I hardly blame the miners for wanting to become a sheltered industry. This particular Clause reducing the hours is an attempt towards that sheltering.

The right hon. Member for Ogmore said that the passing of the Eight Hours Act had not developed good feeling between the mineowners and the men, and that if you have not good feeling you cannot get the production. I know that you have to have the good feeling of the men, and, I would say, their affection too, in order to get the best work out of them. In another sentence, the right hon. Gentleman indicated something rather contradictory to what he had previously said, because he said that with 160,000 fewer men in the mining industry 10,000,000 more tons had been produced. I draw more from figures than from opinions, and I am driven to the conclusion that there must have been an extraordinary amount of good feeling, or the men would not have given so much better output.

Mr. LEE:

There was more time.

Photo of Mr Frederick Macquisten Mr Frederick Macquisten , Argyll

But it shows the good feeling there was. The eight-hours day was brought in at a time when the mining industry was in a very bad way, and I believe it had a good deal to do, together with the increased exertions of the men, with bringing it into a better condition. It is true, as the right, hon. Member for Ogmore said, that there has been a very sad reduction in wages, but we must recollect that there was a very considerable increase in 1924, when the Ruhr was occupied. Afterwards, the industry could not stand that increase, but wages could not be allowed to go down to a grotesque degree, because in that case the men would have become exhausted and could not have kept at their work. As one hon. Member has said, the miner is a man of splendid physique or he could not do his job, and the main thing is to see that he gets the best possible wages in order to enable him to maintain his stamina and carry on with his job. The right hon. Member for Ogmore said that so much had gone into the pockets of the iron and steel companies, but an examination of their balance sheets since 1925 would show-nothing but losses. I do not believe that there has been a ton of pig iron made at a profit in this country since 1926. He also said that the shipowners got so much. Of course. Was not that a sign of the increased prosperity, the increased output, and the increase in the cargoes carried abroad? Then he said something about the householders having got £18,000,000 out of the miners' pockets. I am a householder myself, and I never saw much reduction in the price of coal. There is nothing more amazing than the difference between the cost at the pit head and the cost when it gets into our cellars. It passes through too many hands. One proprietor told me that he was bringing some tons on a motor lorry from his pit in Yorkshire to see if he could not deliver from the pit head by motor lorry cheaper than by railway. It is the railway rates that are at the bottom of it.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Robert Young):

We must not have a discussion on that question. Others might desire to take part in it.

Photo of Mr Frederick Macquisten Mr Frederick Macquisten , Argyll

But these are the causes which led to the eight-hours day, and the question, is can we relapse? There is a tremendous responsibility upon the shoulders of all the miners' representatives. When men start on a definite line of action, and with a definite war cry, such as we had at the General Election, that a specific body of legislation must be undertaken, then it is very difficult for them, no matter what argument is addressed to them, to agree that there is any other remedy or any other solution. Those who are engaged in any particular occupation are apt to think they are the only ones who know anything about it. They forget the old saying that "Onlookers see mist of the game." That is why there is always difficulty in reforming anything. In the legal and the medical professions you cannot get reform because the men at the top of the tree think that everything must be for the best or they would not be where they are. Sometimes it is necessary to get an outsider's view of a problem, and I am taking the outsider's view when I ask the representatives of the miners whether they cannot realise that there is some good in this Amendment. It is moved by one who has had a very intimate acquaintance with the coal trade from his youth up, as I myself know. It is moved with a regard for the-miners which is just as deep as that of any hon. Member opposite. After all this is only going to extend for about a year. Why have two changes instead of one? Why not try it for the 12 months? It is not compulsory. If it were being laid down by Act of Parliament, so that there was no option in the matter, I could very well understand the complaint of hon. Members opposite that Parliament was deciding a matter which ought to be left to the men themselves. But the Amendment itself begins: Where …. by agreement between the representatives of the employers and the workmen.

Photo of Mr John Potts Mr John Potts , Barnsley

And that agreement does not operate.

Photo of Mr Frederick Macquisten Mr Frederick Macquisten , Argyll

I personally should be prepared to suggest that the words, "agreement between the representatives of the employers and the workmen," should be taken out of the Amendment. I should be prepared to substitute the words "where the workmen decide by ballot," that they should do it, keeping the employers out of it altogether. That would be a perfectly fair thing. It would be found, I think, that there would be a considerable number of cases where, in the summer months, the men would like to have an entire day to themselves. In coal mining, where you have to get up every day at dawn and put on clothing heavy with coal dust, it would be very pleasant for the miner to realise that there would be one day in the fortnight when on getting up he need not put on that clothing and when on coming home he need not change his clothes. That is the human side of the matter. Why not give the workmen the chance to decide for themselves? We had the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) stating that there might be many Clauses which were supposed to give greater liberty but which in practice did not give that liberty. But he is not always accurate in his conclusions. He was not even accurate in the very amusing story he told us about the man from Aberdeen, the commercial traveller, who was in a distant island. I know that story well, because it happened in the island of Tiree. It was not an Aberdeen firm who employed him, it was a Zionist firm.

Photo of Mr Frederick Macquisten Mr Frederick Macquisten , Argyll

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen gave this instance and his whole argument was that this is a compulsory Clause. My suggestion is that the miners should be at liberty to do what we propose if they like. Of course, on such matters as these we can only exercise our judgment as well as we can. I should be glad to have a whole day once a fortnight. If it was a wet morning I should rest a little longer, but on a fine day I should engage in some kind of sport or other occupation. The miners' representatives think that they know what the miner wants, but I am inclined to say to them, as Oliver Cromwell said in this House, "Persuade yourselves that you may be wrong."

Photo of Mr Frederick Macquisten Mr Frederick Macquisten , Argyll

I am no Brutus. I ask hon. Members opposite to be careful about this matter. I have sailed round the world. I have studied the export trade of the coal industry; I know that it is in a very delicate condition, and anything that this House may do may have a great repercussion. When I sailed for Shanghai and St. Vincent I saw no coal at all, and nothing but vast tanks of American oil. If you put this trade in that position by adding one shilling or more per ton to the price, you will be like Nero fiddling while "oil" is burning, and you will be taking another big contribution out of the pockets of the British people and especially of the British miners, and putting it into the already rich coffers of the United States. I do not think that point has been considered.

The enormous procession of coal ships which used to go to the East do not go there any longer. Oil is now being used largely in liners and private houses, and the biggest factory in Scotland uses 30,000 tons of fuel oil. Oil is also being used for heating tenements and flats in London. Coal now runs the same danger that overtook many of my constituents in the Highlands who used peat. It is in danger of becoming out of date. Therefore, I ask hon. Members to walk warily. This Amendment gives an opportunity of diminishing the damage and diminishing the increased charges which would otherwise fall upon the industry, and it can only be operative for about a year. I submit that hon. Members opposite are not doing the best for their class when they insist upon shoving their opinions down the throats of the industry, and this course may have a disastrous effect on wages.

Photo of Sir James Millar Sir James Millar , Fife Eastern

As one who for 8 years represented one of the largest mining divisions in Lanarkshire in this House, and who to-day represents a large body of miners in Fifeshire, I desire to say a few words on the amendment before the House. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) has made it clear that those of us who sit on these benches are in sympathy with the view which has been expressed that this is a question affecting the hours to be worked per shift which ought to be largely determined by the men engaged in the mines. I have been much struck by the kind of arguments which have been presented to the Committee by hon. Members above the Gangway on this side of the House who have come forward like the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten) as outsiders to tender to the men engaged in the coal industry their disinterested advice as to what is best for them. Those hon. Members have had their answer, and I think this is the place where the miners' representatives are fully entitled to put forward their views on behalf of those they represent.

The arguments have been divided into two parts. In the first place it is said that the miners do not know what is good for themselves, and that really they ought to have some regard to the proposal as to the spreading of the hours which has been put forward in the Amendment we are discussing. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir II. Home) said that his Amendment was put forward in the interests of the miners, and other hon. Members on the Opposition side have taken up the same line of argument. They have proceeded, however, in the second place, to deal with what they regard as the economic issue, and have maintained that it is necessary to meet the situation due to the shortening of hours by proposals which will increase the working day and may involve a reduction of wages of the day wage workers. Those engaged in the industry understand best the conditions under which they are working. We should not ask the miners to remain underground for a longer period than is good for their health and comfort, and those who propose that they should work longer hours are doing no real service to the coal industry or to the country.

The economic issue has been raised again and again in the past as an excuse for longer hours and a reduction of wages. Again and again it has been shown that if the workers were placed in a position in which they would have greater opportunities for recreation, comfort and time to allow them to take part as citizens in the affairs of their country and more opportunities to devote to domestic life at home the industry has never been the loser. I believe that the human element is considered to be a matter of great importance in this House. Many hon. Members opposite speak with great authority for the miners, and after the opinions they have expressed I should hesitate very long before I supported any proposal put before this House like the present one to extend the hours of work underground.

Any man who has been underground, who has had an opportunity of studying conditions underground, knows perfectly well that the miners do a very hard day. I am proud to be associated with a party which has endeavoured in the past to secure fair play for the miners. Almost immediately after my first introduction to the House, in 1910, the Liberal Government of the day introduced the Coal Mines Regulation Bill of 1911, and then we had the Minimum Wage Bill of 1012.

The House should regard this matter in its true perspective, which has been a little overlooked to-day. From 1919 the hours have been fixed it seven, with the additional 60 days on which an hour's overtime might be worked, which afforded a measure of elasticity. That, no doubt, resulted from a situation which compelled reconsideration of the state of the whole industry, but the miners were afforded the opportunity of working a seven-hour day. Then there came the Act of 1926, which was a purely temporary Measure, and I fail altogether to see why a temporary arrangement of this character, which is going to expire in 1931, cannot be brought to an end a little sooner. It was intended to be temporary, and, is it were brought to an end a little sooner, it could best be done at this time when the whole question of the reorganisation of the industry is under consideration. With good will, and within the terms of this Bill, it may be and ought to be possible to try to meet any additional cost involved by the shortening of the hours without throwing an unfair burden on the consumers in this country.

Reference has been made by the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire to the tremendous cost to the consumer as compared with the cost at the pit-head, and there is a great deal to be done yet in regard to reducing the charges which are borne by our consumers. There is a great, deal to be done in reorganising the mines of this country, by cutting out unnecessary charges and by amalgamations, which I hope will result to a considerable extent in a reduction of charges; and there is a great deal to be done by the operation of the Joint Industrial Board, which, in considering the whole question of the conditions under which the industry is being carried on, may be able to recommend important proposals which will also lead to a reduction of costs. I have consulted constituents of mine, who are engaged in the mining industry, with regard to this Bill, and the miners in my division agree that this Amendment ought not to be accepted. I am perfectly confident that, when the question arises how far it may be possible to meet the additional cost involved by the reduction of hours, it will he possible, with good will on all sides, to find a way out. I am satisfied that the miners themselves have no desire to throw upon the consumers in this country additional burdens. On the other hand, many of those who are engaged in other industries want to see the miners get a fair deal and are prepared to assist towards that end by securing the passage of a Bill of this kind.

I Sincerely hope, after the expressions of opinion that we have heard on this matter, that there will be general agreement in the Committee that this Amendment should not be insisted upon. I hope that it may not be necessary to divide upon it. If it is divided upon, I can only say that I do not think the country will regard as wise the action of those hon. Members win; press it to a Division. I believe that the general feeling of the great mass of the electors of this country to-day is that an effort ought to be made, in this Bill to secure a settlement of the great coal problem with which the country is confronted at the moment, and I, for one, intend to do all that I can to facilitate a settlement that is fair to the miners and to the coal consumers.

Photo of Mr Ben Turner Mr Ben Turner , Batley and Morley

The Debate this afternoon has been a most pleasant one: it ha" been courteous and examinative, if I may use such a word, which is not often used in this House. I should like to compliment the hon. and gallant Member for North Leeds (Captain Peake), although he spoke against the clause and in favour of the Amendment, upon the splendid way in which he put his case. It showed a remarkable attitude on the part of a coalowner from the county of Yorkshire, and it also proves what is often said, that most people in the world are good people. It is sometimes wise to remind ourselves of the fact that the bad people are very few, and the good people are very many. I am very pleased that the subject of our Debate to-day has seemed largely to range itself outside party politics. I feel that all those who have spoken in favour of the Amendment have been stating their genuine opinions and expressing their genuine fears in connection with the matter. I want to take the discussion away from the economic considerations that have been most prominent this afternoon, on to the human side, where it represents the question of the hours of labour of 1,000,000 miners, and 1,000,000 miners' families. I think it is proof positive that their claim for shorter hours is demonstrated to the full because 43 members of the mining community, and 80 members from mining districts, were returned to the House of Commons on a definite election pledge on the matter.

The only charge that has been made against the Government is that they are only carrying out half their pledge. [Interruption.] You will not give us the whole pledge. [Interruption.] I believe that what I have been saying is the correct interpretation. Anyhow, Clause 9 is only a half-way measure to the point alluded to by the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Millar). The permissive Eight Hours Act expires on the 8th July of next year, and I think it is safer for the trade, rather than adopt the suggestion of the honourable humorist from somewhere in Scotland, to take this matter in two stages.

The whole history of the Acts of Parliament regarding hours of labour for miners has been based upon each day standing by itself. In the Act of 1908 there is no suggestion of averaging, and the same applies to the Act of 1919. Indeed, the Act of 1919 was based upon a proposal to go down to six hours, and not to go back to eight. Then came the Act of 1926, which, of course, had no averaging Clauses whatever. Anyone who consulted miners in any part of England, and I think in Scotland and Wales too, would be condemned if he suggested such a thing as reducing the hours of labour by one half-hour on the averaging policy. It is well to remember that the miners' hours to-day, in the area where the Act applies, are eight hours and 35 minutes, on the average. Anyone who has known miners and mining will know that that is a pretty long period for them to have to undergo their trials and tribulations.

It is not the first man down who is the first man up. I hope we shall never have the regimentation that applies in some foreign countries. Our loose method is much better than the marshalling of the men as in Germany, going down at one time and coming up at another exactly on regimental lines. I do not want that. But while that would be foreign to our traditions, I do not want us to be behind them in the total number of hours or minutes in which they have to perform their occupation. This Great Britain of which everyone is proud, and to which everyone is thankful to belong, has the longest working day in Europe with one exception. I want us to bring it down by this little half hour so that we are no longer in the position of being outstriven by other nations. It seems to me that it is an act of justice. The miner's occupation is one of the most dangerous and exhausting in the world. They have to walk a mile or a mile and a-half, doubled down, and it is a marvel that they live till they are old folk. They have electrification of machinery, conveyers, elevators, and the last innovation is pneumatic drills, but the hours have not been shortened. It is wisdom, too, from the physical point of view to bring the hours down to what they were in 1926.

There has been talk about absenteeism. I have heard it talked about scores of times. In some of the Yorkshire pits it is hell-fire underground. They are like roaring furnaces. The labour is so exhausting and the atmosphere is so bad that there are certain pits that cannot be worked more than four days a week. Absenteeism is not always due to having drawn their wages the day before. There is no more sober set of people in the world than the miners. Their reputation has changed in the last 50 years, and I do not know any body of men who are more sober, faithful, and God fearing and attentive to their work. Absenteeism can be explained in another way than that which has been alluded to. The late Secretary for Mines says that he does not want to see a reduction of wages with this proposal for a reduction of hours. It would be a shame if there were a proposal for a reduction of wages. It would be a disgrace to the mining community, and I hope no such proposal will be made. If it be made, I am with the hon. Member opposite that the proposed National Industrial Board shall be used to the fullest degree, so that there may be no conflict in the coalfield but a settlement may be arrived at by wisdom, prudence and common understanding.

I feel sure that this half-hour will mean a considerable number more miners being employed, and it would be an effective assistance to the unemployment problem. We are told that we cannot afford it. But we have to afford unemployment pay and Poor Law relief. Surely, it would be better to pay them wages with which they could purchase the goods we make in our own Kingdom. That would beat all your Empire Free Trade proposition. I hope it will not mean a wage crisis. There is physical reason in having a short day. It has been alleged that the miners do not care about a shorter working day and that what they want is more wages. Certainly, they want more wages, but there have been recent ballots in the coalfield, and they have all declared that they want the Eight Hours Act repealed and the seven hours retored. No one could question that who knows the miners or lives among them, as I do.

The Bill is so framed that I believe it could meet the loss of the half-hour on the working day, and it could be done without injury to the trade. Miners do not want to injure their trade. They love working at their most dirty and dangerous work. That is the marvel of it. It is inborn in them. But they want justice and fair play and good pay at the same time. I know that coal is a national necessity, but the pitmen are a national asset. There is no human or moral reason for keeping the hours so long, and often this House is moved by moral passion. This is not a time to have feuds and hatreds. There have been too many in the coalfield in the 100 years gone by, and I am with Arnold when he wrote: Peace, Peace is what I seek, and public calm,Endless extinction of unhappy hates.

Photo of Mr Cyril Culverwell Mr Cyril Culverwell , Bristol West

I am sure we are very grateful for the interposition of the Secretary for Mines, and he has certainly been very enlightening. He started off by saying that he would bring this Debate out of the economic sphere into its human aspect, and he has certainly succeeded in doing so. I think that in doing that he represents the sentiments which animate most of the hon. Members on the opposite side. While we on this side give way to them in no wise in our desire to improve their conditions and in our solicitude for the welfare of the miners, we keep our feet upon the ground, and we appreciate the economic difficulties in the way.

What did the hon. Gentleman say? Any reduction of wages as a result of the shortening of hours would be a shame. What was his solution when asked to provide the money? Get the money from "where it may be." That is not the way that we on this side of the House proceed when we are carrying out a great reform or a great alteration in our economic system. We want to know where the money is coming from. We want to know how much it will cost. While we appreciate the human aspects of the position of the miners, we do not want to see their last state worst than their first as a result of Government action. I make no apology for intervening in this Debate, because I believe that this really is the vital Clause of the whole Bill. This, after all, is the Clause which makes the whole Bill necessary. If it were not for this reduction of hours, we should not want Part I, we should not want the re-organisation Clauses, we should not want all this elaborate scheme. It is Part II, it is the alteration of hours, which has made the whole Bill necessary. The Minister himself was right when he said that there were in this House some 80—I should have put the figure even higher—Members of mining constituencies, "miners' M. Ps." I think he called them, who were determined that this Bill should go through, who promised this Bill at the last election, and who were returned to this House because they had promised this Bill. They are determined, not to see the whole of their promises fulfilled—we should not expect that—but to see a portion of their promises carried out. In my submission, it is a most dangerous state of affairs.

This Debate has been conducted on a, very high level and in a most friendly spirit, and I hope that nothing I may say will be taken in any way as a reflection upon hon. Gentlemen opposite. But I believe that it is a very grave mistake and discreditable to this House and to the Constitution for a solid block of 80 Members of Parliament to sit in this House and dictate to the party to whom they belong the policy which that party shall carry out. I believe it is of the very greatest danger to the service which this House fulfils in the national interests. It would be very much better if Members of Parliament represented no sectional interests. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite may laugh, hut surely many hon. Members opposite to a large extent represent a sectional interest, and they are prepared to put the interests of that section of the community before the interests of the community as a whole. I very much regret that among hon. Members opposite who represent mining constituencies, who made these promises at the election, and who have forced the present Government to attempt to carry them out, there should be this influence in favour of one particular section of the community.

9.0 p.m.

I suppose that we are all concerned, as the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade is undoubtedly concerned, at the cost, of fulfiling this promise. He so appreciates the cost of fulfilling this promise, that, instead of fulfilling the whole of it, he has promised to fulfil only half of it. He cannot face the whole of the cost. He is prepared to go only half way and do it by instalments. He estimates that the cost of carrying out only half the promise which hon. Gentlemen made at the last election, is going to add something like 1s. 6d. per ton to the cost of coal. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I certainly understood that that was the figure which the right hon. Gentleman gave in the House on the Second Reading of this Bill.

Photo of Mr William Graham Mr William Graham , Edinburgh Central

I am obliged to the hon. Member for giving way. I said that it had been argued on that peak point of 1s. 6d. per ton additional cost of coal, but I also said that we had not accepted that maximum figure.

Photo of Mr Cyril Culverwell Mr Cyril Culverwell , Bristol West

I do not think that I have in any way misled the House as to the figure which the right hon. Gentleman gave. Let us put it at a shilling to 1s. 6d. per ton as the increased cost of production under this Bill. In other words, all the benefit which industry has received from that great de-rating scheme, is going to be taken away and more than taken away—there is going to be a debit balance—yet the industry is expected to go on and prosper. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Hartshorn) took a most remarkable argument. He told the House that for the last few years the miners had lost millions. I think he said £90,000,000, in wages. He told us that, as a result of this heavy loss, no advantage had come to the industry at all. He gave the figures of the consumption of the iron and steel trade, and he gave the figures of the consumption of other industries. They had not moved; they were static. They had not moved between the years 1925 and 1928. He gave the figures of the iron and steel industry. The iron and steel industry, in 1925, consumed 21,000,000 tons of coal. In 1928, it consumed the same amount, and therefore his argument was that all this sacrifice on the part of the miners had been entirely thrown away and wasted, and that nobody was any better for it.

He seemed to ignore entirely the fact as to what the position would have been had there not been that reduction in the cost which was carried out as a result of the Eight Hours Act. He himself put the figure of the decreased cost of production as a result of that Eight Hours Act at 3s. a ton. Where would the iron and steel industry have been if that reduction had not taken place? His argument actually boils down to the fact that the reduction in the price of coal had made no difference at all, that industry would still have consumed the same amount, and that the miners' sacrifices were entirely wasted. I do not think that the House will appreciate the force of that argument. We all know full well what a difficult time the mining industry has been through, and we know full well what sacrifices the miners have made, but I would remind the House that, sentimental as we may be and much as we desire to give every bit of our sympathy to the miners, if they had not made that sacrifice and the Eight Hours Act had not been brought in, there would have been many more unemployed in the mining industry to-day. Much as we may deplore the passage of that Bill and the fact that that extra half-hour was granted, yet we ought to be thankful, not that conditions are as bad as they are, but that they are so much better than they might have been.

I was amazed when the President of the Board of Trade spoke. He gave one of his usual lucid expositions, but he did not answer the questions that we are putting forward in this Amendment. Although he spoke at considerable length, the only reference that I could hear to the question of averaging, which we are putting forward, was the statement that the representatives of the miners are against averaging and that, therefore, it was much better to leave the matter for peaceful solution between the mineowners and the miners. He did not give any reason why averaging should not take place, and he did not say one word against our Amendment. All that he said, in effect, was that the miner representatives, 80 strong in this House, a solid block of 80 Socialist Members, are opposed to this solution or this partial solution of the alteration of hours. Therefore, he preferred to leave the matter alone. After hearing his speech, I formed the opinion that the right hon. Gentleman would have liked to have seen our Amendment carried, but that he was unable to persuade his followers to accept it.

What does this permissive Clause do? It is permissive. There is no question of compelling the miners to adopt this suggestion, but we feel that the Clause is too rigid and that we would prefer to give the miners and the mineowners some latitude in settling this question of hours. It would be to the benefit of both parties. I do not anticipate the abuses which hon. Members opposite appear to anticipate. I think it was the hon. Member for the Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) who drew attention to the effect upon the day wage workers if our Amendment were carried. He said that they represented 60 per cent. of the men employed in the mines. If there are 60 per cent. of day wage workers in the mines it would not be difficult for them to vote against the agreement coming into effect and, the agreement being permissive, it would not take effect.

I am concerned with regard to averaging from another point of view, when one hears that a convention at Geneva, held under the auspices of the International Labour Office, passed a resolution recommending that some proposal exactly on these lines should be adopted. That resolution was carried by 18 votes to seven. That fact ought to encourage the Committee to accept our Amendment. I attach the greatest importance to the work of the International Labour Office at Geneva because I believe that the eventual salvation of the mining industry will be the standardisation of wages and hours throughout Europe. Until we can get a standard wage and a standard hour and the same living conditions among our competitors as exist in this country, we shall always find a difficulty in competing in the markets of the world. Therefore, any effort that we can make to encourage the passing of international agreements, the better. Surely, that is the policy of hon. Members opposite. That is what they suggest as the solution of our difficulties in trade and industry. They will not protect our industries, but they will wait for the standard of living in other countries to rise to that of our own, or they will prohibit the importation of sweated goods. They want to do it by international agreement.

Here we have an opportunity of following the recommendation which, has been set at the conference at Geneva, and it is deserving of our earnest consideration. The fact that that resolution was passed at Geneva is a sufficient answer to the statement that there would be abuses and that this proposal is a means, as one hon. Member opposite suggested, of evading the reduction of hours. Although we attach great importance to the question of averaging as a means of helping both sides in the industry, and while we believe that this reduction of half an hour in the working day is going to aim a blow at the industry, we are concerned as to how this tax, for it is nothing less than a tax, of 1s. 6d. or 1s. per ton upon export coal, is going to assist us in competing in the markets of the world. When we already have difficulty in selling our coal, how shall we stand the burden of an extra 1s. 6d. or 1s. per ton? The Secretary for Mines was somewhat ingenuous when he said that we could get the money from where it might be. He knows that it is going to come out of the consumer. In this Bill the Government are setting up a gigantic trust, a new form of syndicalism by which the mineowners and the miners, both interested in the industry, are going to exploit the consumer for all they are worth. The difference in the cost will have to be met somehow. You can either decrease wages or you can pass the increased cost of production on to the consumer, and that is what hon. Members opposite intend to do. By that means they will not only send up the price of coal to the domestic consumer, but all great industries which are already hard hit—in spite of the sacrifices of the miners which, according to the right hon. Member for Ogmore have amounted to £90,000,000 in the last three or four years—will be hit again. Those industries can scarcely carry on under the present conditions, and yet this Bill will add further to the cost of their raw material.

How is this tax of 1s. a ton going to assist the steel industry? It will mean 3s. or 4s. extra per ton on the production of steel. How will that assist the export trade of the steel industry? How will this tax assist electricity and public utility companies, those great companies which we did our best to assist in the last Government. They are going to be handicapped and crippled by having to pay more for their raw material. The electricity concerns, which many of us believe can do a great deal to lower the cost of production in our manufactories, are going to pay more for their coal, and are going to be exploited in the interests of the miners and the mineowners and hon. Members opposite sit still, complacent. This is a very severe and possibly disastrous attack upon industry at a time when it is beginning to recover, when it is showing signs of returning to that prosperity which we all would like it to attain.

I hope that hon. Members opposite will see that as little damage as possible is done. I urge them to consider the matter in no party spirit. [Laughter.] I do not know why hon. Members laugh. Why need the coal industry be made a party question? It need only be a party question if you try to run it on sentimental lines instead of business lines. I would urge the right hon. Gentleman to consider very seriously whether he cannot accept our Amendment as some modification of the burden which is being inflicted upon industry.

Photo of Mr Duncan Graham Mr Duncan Graham , Hamilton

I want to say one or two things to the hon. Member who has just sat down before entering on the general question. There are a number of parasites in this country, but the miner is not one. If the hon. Member for Bristol West (Mr. Culverwell) had learned his education in the mine he would know that the miner is not the sentimental animal he has described.

Photo of Mr Cyril Culverwell Mr Cyril Culverwell , Bristol West

I did not accuse the miners of being sentimental. I accused hon. Members opposite of being sentimental.

Photo of Mr Duncan Graham Mr Duncan Graham , Hamilton

Neither are the 80 miners' Members sentimentalists. There are 43 who have learnt their education in the mines, but they are not miners' Members. They have been chosen to represent the constituencies which elected them, and look after the general body of constituents they represent as much as any Member in this House. The right hon. and learned Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home) said that he was moving the Amendment because he thought the miners would be favourable to it and that the industrial representatives of the miners in the House would support it. Some of them have taken part in this Debate and have made it perfectly plain that the miners do not want any permissive Clause in the Bill, particularly a permissive Clause dealing with hours. Hon. Members who have very little knowledge of this subject might pay some attention to men who speak with some knowledge. We are voicing the opinion of the miners on the question of hours. We are not so foolish as to imagine that the coalowner is a worse animal than the miner. We can discuss our differences with the coal-owner in a perfectly friendly atmosphere, but on this question there can be no possible agreement between the coal-owners and ourselves. If it is true that we represent the workmen's point of view it is equally true that most hon. Members opposite represent the employers' point of view. We do not want the matter to be considered entirely from the humanitarian standpoint, or entirely from the economic standpoint either. Both should play their part.

There is a humanitarian claim, and no medical man on either side of the House would for a moment stand before a public audience and advocate that men should be compelled to work in the mines for seven and a half hours a day in the atmosphere which obtains particularly in the Yorkshire coalfields, where, as the hon. Member for the Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) told us, there are collieries of over 500 fathoms deep. I suggest to hon. Members opposite that they might, read the Report of the Mines Department and also some of the evidence submitted to the Samuel Commission, where they will find that millions of tons of coal are being produced in British coalfields, from seams less than two feet thick. It is impossible for hon. Members here to visualise the conditions where men have to work in a seam 20 and 18 inches thick, with water pouring on them and lying in water at the same time. I am afraid they would have something more than sentiment to talk about if they worked under such conditions. We are told by scientific experts that for every 60 feet that a pit is sunk the temperature rises one degree. There are collieries nearly three-quarters of a mile deep and the men have to travel sometimes two and three miles to get to the face. They are exhausted before they reach their work. Is there a medical man who will say that men should be called upon to work seven and a-half hours a day under such circumstances? There is not a medical man on either side of the House who would not say that there is no humanity or economics in such a position. We are prepared to look at the whole question of the mining industry from the economic as well as the humanitarian standpoint. We may be more interested in the wellbeing of the mining community than in that of any other section, but because we are here as miners does not mean that we are not citizens. The miners produced 400,000 men during the years of the War, and in some districts as much as 40 per cent. of the men between the ages of 18 and 40 joined the Colours until the Government was compelled to put a bar on miners being accepted for the Army. That is not the type of man who looks at life merely from his own standpoint.

A great deal has been made of the cost of this Bill to the industry, and the effect it will have upon the industry as a whole. Let me quote the figures given in the Mines Department Report. The miners themselves did not send in these figures. They do not know who did, but I think they should command some respect on the other side of the Committee. From the year ending December, 1922, until the year ending 31st December, 1929, the saleable coal raised in Britain was £1,529,583,917; the wages paid to the miners £832,520,000, an average of 9s. 10d. per ton of coal raised during those six years; stores and timber, £139,534,864, an average cost of 2s. 3d. per ton of coal raised. Then there is the cost of management and salaries to directors, many of whom are parasites and absolute encumbrances as far as the working of the mines is concerned. They drew £192,232,569, or an average of 3s. 1d. per ton. We could get money there if the industry is reorganised. Then royalties amounted to £37,285,246. If there are any parasites in this country, then royalty owners are parasites. Their average is 6d. per ton. There is money there. Then we come to the coalowners themselves. Their amount was £46,095,266 for the six years ending 31st December, 1929. That is an average of fully 7d. per ton, and, added to the 6d. paid to the landlord, it makes 1s. 1d. At the beginning of the present century, we were told by the representatives of the coalowners that, if they got 6d. per ton profit on working the mines, they would be more than satisfied. There is a great amount of money, millions of pounds, going somewhere, which is of no real advantage to the country. If the industry is reorganised, as it can be, there is no doubt at all but that savings can be effected, and economies carried out which will make it unnecessary to raise the price of coal, and which will at the same time produce sufficient to give the coalminers very considerably higher wages than they are able to earn at the present time.

We are supposed to have an eight-hours day in operation now. There is no eight-hours day in Scotland. The eight hours is honoured more in the breach than in the observance, and I am hoping that not only will this Bill pass and the Government introduce other legislation necessary for the reorganisation of the mining industry, but that they will see that the men who are appointed to act as administrators will carry out their work. The inspectors state that the number of accidents in the mines can be reduced by 50 per cent. When I say that one half of the total accidents in this country occur in the mining industry I think it can be claimed that the time has arrived when there should be more humanity brought into the industry. These men's lives could be saved. Many of them are losing their lives because of the evil conditions of the industry. I am not imputing all the blame to the employers. It would be totally wrong for me to do so, and I am not going to do so, but every employer and workman who has any conception of the nature of this particular industry is agreed that there must be reorganisation. I am glad that our Government are taking the first step towards that end. It is only the beginning, and I hope to live long enough to see the industry put on to a much sounder economic basis than it is to-day, and that humanity will play some part in its administration, with benefit to the well-being of the whole country as a consequence.

I appeal to hon. Members on the other side to get rid of their catch-phrases about our being here merely representing a particular class or section of the community and to put into operation the theory that many of them advocate outside in speaking to their constituents in the country, namely, real co-operation. I believe that is the object aimed at by the Government in this Bill. There is nothing upon which the miners have set their hearts more than the reduction of the working time. We do not want any reduction in wages. There is no need for it. We do want the hours reduced. We know that the hours could very well be reduced below even seven, and that benefit would accrue, not merely to the miners as a consequence, but to the country as a whole.

I will conclude by quoting one of the biggest men in British commercial life. Prior to his death, shortly after the War, Lord Leverhulme wrote a preface to a book published by a professor of engineering in London University, in which it is stated that, if industry were organised as it could be, it would be possible to produce all the wealth that is necessary for the well-being of the community by working one hour per week—not eight hours a day ! It looks a most remarkable statement, but it is not a statement made by Mr. Cook. The gentleman who wrote the book is a professor of engineering, and it is Lord Leverhulme who makes the statement. If it be true, then there could be no greater criticism of the incapacity of the men who control industry in this country than that statement made by one of their own members. If it be not true, then we are not responsible for the statement. We do not pretend to be able to discuss the higher criticisms and many of the high philosophical problems in the same way as many of our hon. Friends on the other side and on this side also, but we have had the advantage, even the eldest of us, of a fairly decent elementary education, and we can read. Our experience of life has helped us to think, and I am speaking to you of what I have read. The title of the book is "Wealth from Waste." Its author is Professor Spooner, of London University, professor of engineering, and the sponsor for the statement made in it is Lord Leverhulme.

I believe that our Government is taking the right line in starting with a proposal that will at last satisfy the miners. It will enable a peaceful atmosphere to be brought into the industry when the other remedies are being applied, and, if there can be that co-operation which is essential for the country's well-being between the parties in this House, I venture to say that our united wisdom will be sufficient to raise the mining industry and all other industries on a higher level than they occupy to-day, and we shall be doing a very-great service to the community which we represent.

Photo of Colonel Victor Cazalet Colonel Victor Cazalet , Chippenham

I am sure every one in every part of the House will be grateful to the hon. Member who has just sat down for providing us with what is a totally new fact, that at some future date this country may be organised so that it will not be necessary for any individual to do more than one hour's work a week. It will afford us a happy subject for conversation in our spare time. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that if such a situation ever comes to pass I for one, and I am sure many of us on these benches, will be prepared to do not one hour per week but even two, so that the hon. Member need do none at all.

Photo of Mr Duncan Graham Mr Duncan Graham , Hamilton

Everybody over there would have to do their share of the work.

Photo of Colonel Victor Cazalet Colonel Victor Cazalet , Chippenham

The hon. Member did not hear me. I not only offered to do my hour, but his as well. I think the Committee will be grateful to the hon. Member for another reason. As he said, it is not often that ho gives us statistics. He has certainly given us enough this evening to last for some time. I am not going to try to answer them, because I do not doubt for a moment the veracity of any of them; but I am certain that if he will produce some of them on a future occasion they will be found capable of a very different interpretation from that which he has put upon them this evening. No one could help being moved by the first part of the hon. Member's speech, with its graphic description of the life of the miner in this country. I speak in the presence of those who have worked underground many years, but I hope the hon. Member will allow me to say that I have never been down a mine in this country or abroad without realising—[Interruption.] I have tried to warn hon. Members that I was saying this with the greatest possible respect to those who have gone down a mine far oftener than I have. I have never been down a mine without feeling what a debt of gratitude I and any other Member of the ordinary public who enjoys benefits from coal owe to all those who are engaged in producing coal.

I have listened for the last four or five hours to many arguments against the Amendment. We have been appealed to on sentimental and humanitarian grounds for the most part. I am certain that not a single Member on this side of the Committee would oppose Clause 9 of the Bill if he believed that the hours of work could be reduced without some kind of wage crisis coming in. I would recall a few facts to the attention of the Committee. We were informed by the President of the Board of Trade that he expected that in certain instances the operation of the Clause might entail at most an increase in the price of 1s. to 1s. 6d. per ton. In South Wales there is a loss of 2d. a ton already in the export district. Therefore we have to face a possible loss of anything between 1s. 2d. and 1s. 8d. a ton.

What facts can hon. Members opposite produce to prove to us that this loss will be made good by any other part of the Bill which we have not yet discussed? What did the President of the Board of Trade tell us? He said that he hoped the loss might be made good by an increase in the export trade, uniform hardening of the price and a general attitude of good will all round.; and, lastly—to my mind it is by far the most important point—by what he was going to produce in Part I of the Bill. But that is what we here have been arguing for many hours both to-day and on Tuesday. We do not know what Part I of the Bill contains. We have been put in a very difficult position. I presume that the right hon. Gentleman- meant that the economies which might be effected by the process of amalgamation would tide over the inevitable increase in cost caused by Clause 9. I believe that we shall never be able to tide over that cost until we have come to some arrangement with our foreign competitors in regard to the price at which we sell our coal to neutral countries.

I was in Poland not long ago, in the coal-producing districts of Silesia. The mines there, which are our keenest competitors and have done most to ruin our export trade in South Wales, are selling coal locally at the pit-head for 18s. a ton, which same coal is sold in Danzig for export purposes at 12s. 6d. a ton. Who is suffering from that? Partly the local people in Poland, but chiefly the people in this country, and particularly the miners in this country. The Poles are prepared—I believe I speak with the authority of some of the most responsible people—to come to terms with representatives of the industry in this country so that they may be able to charge the neutral countries like Scandinavia an economic price for coal, which will ensure a decent wage for the miners in this country, in Poland and elsewhere. As far as I understand the matter, however, we have as yet made no definite proposals to deal with that situation. If the President of the Board of Trade, in conjunction with members of the Liberal party who are to be the part authors of Part I of this Bill, are going to produce some scheme which will meet this situation, then surely the whole position is changed. That was the whole gravamen of our case on Tuesday—that we do not yet know what Part I of the Bill may contain.

I want to refer to another matter. All these suggestions, these promises, thes8 speculations and hopes of good will in future, are all that we have on one side of the scale, and on the other we have this very definite loss of anything from a shilling to 1s. 6d. a ton. With what result? That we shall fail to continue to export what we are exporting to-day, and that inevitably we shall have either a wage crisis in the industry or there will be a further increase in unemployment amongst the miners of the country. Let me refer, in conclusion, to the exact terms of the Amendment. I happen to be the Member who brought to the notice of the former Secretary for Mines the case in the North of England about which he spoke. The situation is that a certain individual wrote to me calling attention to the iniquitous proceedings of a certain trade union in the North of England which was allowing miners to work more hours than they ought to work. He asked me to take notice of the case and to expose the conduct of the trade union. I am used to getting letters of that kind. I was very careful to get every scrap of information possible in regard to the situation before taking any action. What did I discover? Exactly what my right hon. Friend told the Committee this evening: That this technical breach was connived at by all the trade unions up there. It had been agreed to by the miners themselves, because by it they were able to obtain a free Saturday afternoon either to play football or watch some game.

Photo of Colonel Victor Cazalet Colonel Victor Cazalet , Chippenham

Obviously, no hon. Member would ask me to state the names to the Committee—

Photo of Mr William Lawther Mr William Lawther , Barnard Castle

Let us have no fictitious cases. Give us the name of the colliery.

Photo of Colonel Victor Cazalet Colonel Victor Cazalet , Chippenham

Do hon. Members opposite really suppose that either the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for South Paddington (Commodore King) or I would concoct this elaborate story simply for the purpose of making a speech—

Mr. DUNCAN rose

Photo of Colonel Victor Cazalet Colonel Victor Cazalet , Chippenham

I am perfectly prepared to give way if any hon. Member opposite wishes to ask any question.

Photo of Mr William Lawther Mr William Lawther , Barnard Castle

I should like to ask where is this particular colliery or where is the district in which this occurrence is supposed to have taken place?

Photo of Colonel Victor Cazalet Colonel Victor Cazalet , Chippenham

I am perfectly prepared to give, in private, to the hon. Member if he wishes it, the name of the mine and the name of the individual who wrote the letter. I am sure I can hunt it up in my files—

Mr. LAWTHER rose

Photo of Colonel Victor Cazalet Colonel Victor Cazalet , Chippenham

Really, I must be allowed to answer the hon. Member.

Photo of Mr William Lawther Mr William Lawther , Barnard Castle

Why not tell the names to the Committee? Is it because the hon. and gallant Member dare not tell the name?

Photo of Colonel Victor Cazalet Colonel Victor Cazalet , Chippenham

If the hon. Member had only the sense of humour which some other hon. Members on that side have, he would not continue on this point. I say I am perfectly prepared—

Photo of Mr William Lawther Mr William Lawther , Barnard Castle

Then it is only a matter of humour. That is all right.

Photo of Colonel Victor Cazalet Colonel Victor Cazalet , Chippenham

I say I am perfectly prepared to give the name of the individual, but of course no one would expect me to do so publicly across the Floor, this man being a miner up in Northumberland. I cannot do more than offer to give privately the names of the individual, the colliery, the district, and everything else to any hon. Member who asks me.


Curb your imagination a little.

Photo of Mr Archibald Skelton Mr Archibald Skelton , Perth

On a point of Order. Is it right that the temperature of this Debate should be raised by interruptions of that kind?

Photo of Mr William Kelly Mr William Kelly , Rochdale

May I ask if this is not an attack upon all the trade union officials in the mining industry?


The hon. and gallant Member has made a statement, and has promised to give the information privately to any hon. Member who asks for them. Beyond that, I cannot go.

Photo of Colonel Victor Cazalet Colonel Victor Cazalet , Chippenham

If hon. Members who come into the Chamber at this hour choose to interrupt—

Photo of Mr William Lawther Mr William Lawther , Barnard Castle

I have been here all night.

Photo of Colonel Victor Cazalet Colonel Victor Cazalet , Chippenham

I am not referring to the hon. Member. I am referring to an hon. Member who made a most unwarranted insinuation. [HON. MEMBERS: "You are doing so!"] If that hon. Member had been here an hour or two ago, when the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for South Paddington referred to this incident, he would have heard a Member on his own side who knows a great deal more about the mining industry than the hon. Member, say that of course this has been done in various districts for 50 yeans.

Photo of Mr Robert Richardson Mr Robert Richardson , Houghton-le-Spring

What I said was that the short day on Saturday had been done for more than 50 years, but no time was added on to any other shift, because of that.

Photo of Colonel Victor Cazalet Colonel Victor Cazalet , Chippenham

I was only repeating the words of the hon. Member—

Photo of Mr Robert Richardson Mr Robert Richardson , Houghton-le-Spring

You must not use them in that sense.

Photo of Colonel Victor Cazalet Colonel Victor Cazalet , Chippenham

I cannot help remarking, in passing, that when any fact is produced which does not entirely support the views of hon. Members opposite, they discredit its veracity at once, while we on our side are always prepared to accept the facts and figures quoted by hon. Members opposite. I apologise to the Committee for having been diverted from my argument by these very ridiculous, illjudged, ill-informed and grossly ignorant interruptions. I shall now turn with, I hope, that calm which has pervaded the rest of this Debate, to the conclusion of my remarks. The point which I raised is a very material one, and the illustrations which I gave shows that there is, among the mining community or among a certain section—it may be limited and may be in the minority, but nevertheless it definitely exists—a measure of support for the Amendment which we are putting forward. We are asking for 11 days at eight hours, namely, 88 hours a fortnight. What is the alternative proposed by the Government? It is 12 days at seven and a-half hours, namely, 90 hours a fortnight. The first gives one full holiday or two half holidays in the fortnight; the second gives neither.

The hon. Member for North-East Derbyshire (Mr. Lee), in a very interesting and eloquent speech, told us that in any district where miners had the full 11 days' work in the fortnight he was perfectly convinced that they would back up this proposal, and I think no speech which has been made, gave so much support to the Amendment as that admission. We hope and pray that no trouble or wage crisis will break out in the industry as a result of Clause 9. If such trouble occurs, if there is a temporary dislocation of the industry in certain districts, if pits have to close down, if more miners are unemployed and if we lose part of our export trade, hon. Members opposite will not be able to accuse us of being the cause, because we have moved an Amendment here which takes into account the desire of everyone in this country to mitigate the hardships which the miner has to endure, and also takes into account the economic facts which govern the situation.

Photo of Mr Robert Richardson Mr Robert Richardson , Houghton-le-Spring

I wish to deal with the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member on the question of hours. Let me tell him in a categorical manner what has always happened in regard to this matter. On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, all the men went down at 4 o'clock and came out, after a seven-hour day, at 11. On the Saturday they probably went down at 2 instead of at 4 and came up two hours earlier. That is all that happened, and that method of working in the county of Durham has been going on for over 50 years. Let me tell the hon. and gallant Member that the miners want no more than seven and a-half hours in any full working day, and if they can get less that they will be only too glad to have it. I have had to work in the mines myself until I came to this House in 1918, and I "ay emphatically that my present job is the best I ever had in my life. When I interrupted the hon. and gallant Member I understood him to say that he had never been down a mine, and, if that is so, I ask him to take my advice and never to go.

Photo of Colonel Victor Cazalet Colonel Victor Cazalet , Chippenham

But I have been down mines.

Photo of Mr Robert Richardson Mr Robert Richardson , Houghton-le-Spring

Then he knows, or at any rate he ought to have some idea of what this work means. My day's work was such that I often questioned in my own mind whether it was worth my while to walk three-and-a-half miles up and to go back three-and-a-half miles the next day. Had it not been for my wife and family, I should never have gone back to work. I have seen men carried out of the pit wholly exhausted, even with a seven-hours day, let alone an eight-hours day. These are actual facts that I am giving. I have been three-and-a-half miles from the shaft to my working place, and I have seen those who could not speak for them selves dropping dead on the road. I have seen five ponies in less than five hours yield under their terrible working conditions. The conditions in the mines demand your consideration. Much has been said as to the better position of mining to-day, as compared with 1926, but let it be remembered that every penny of that better position has been got at the expense of the miner. Nobody has made a penny sacrifice except him.

I remember the Debates in 1923 very well. You said to the miners, "Give us production, and your wages will not be interfered with." Well, the production has been given to you, and let me say at once that as much at least as an average in my own county of 15 to 20 per cent. less wages have been paid to the men for an eight-hours day. Miners must not be asked to make all the sacrifices. Every trade has a right to bear its share of burdens which affect the whole country, and you ought not to come on the one industry on which you are dependent most and ask it to bear the whole burden. That is what happens to the miners.

As to the shorter working day, ask my constituents, and they will tell you that the first thing they want is the shorter working day They ask for that first of all, and then for something to help them to keep their families. To listen to some of the things that are said about them, one would think the miners were a class below any other class in this country. The miners, congregated in their villages, with little help from outside, have a very hard lot. They cannot look after themselves properly in the pits because of their exertions and their difficulties, and accidents happen under longer hours in the pits far more often than they do under shorter hours. Let hon. Members exercise their minds for a little while and consider the conditions in which these men have to work. It is no case for them of getting God's pure air. They have to work in a vitiated atmosphere, with a temperature from 80 to 90 in the district from which I come, and there is no break whatever in their day's work. That is how miners work to try to bring back prosperity to their industry and to this country.

10.0 p.m.

I sincerely ask this Committee to give them kindly consideration and to rest assured that there is not anything at all for which we are asking in this Bill that is not absolutely essential for them to lead their lives. They have their own dear ones to think of, and their children are shoeless and ragged, because the men cannot earn sufficient money to feed and clothe them properly. They lose their lives much earlier than they would if they had better conditions of life. When I think of the selling price of coal, I wonder whether we have not been the dumpers of coal in foreign countries on the Continent, and brought down prices. I plead with hon. Members to think of this question before casting their votes to-night on this Amendment. We are asking you, because nature cannot stand what has been enforced upon the miners, at least to give us some redress, until the country can afford to do more for us.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

I desire to intervene in this Debate for a few moments only, but as I represent a number of miners in this House, I know that they would wish me to say a few words from their point of view. They are men who work in one of the steepest and hottest mines in the whole country, a mine which I found it impossible to obtain permission to go down, though the mineowners very courteously showed me over another mine where the conditions were very much better. I say that in decreasing the miners' hours by half-an-hour a day, the Government and the country will be restoring something that ought never to have been taken away; and I should have been only too glad if the Government had felt able, with their knowledge of the circumstances, to come and say they were able to carry out a full restoration of the hour taken from the miners.

I cannot help remembering, during the General Strike, sitting at home and listening on the wireless to an appeal made by the late Prime Minister, broadcast all over the country, asking people to bring the strike to an end and go back home and trust him, as Prime Minister of England, to see that the miners got a fair and square deal. I do not want to use the somewhat strong language that one has used on this subject outside, but it has always seemed to me one of the strangest ways of carrying out that pledge, immediately the General Strike was over, to adopt the policy of the mineowners, and to go right in the teeth of the recommendations of the Coal Commission—[Interruption]—to adopt the policy put forward by the mineowners, and rejected by the good sense of the rest of the country. We have now had experience of the mineowners' policy, and it has failed hopelessly. I am very glad that the Government has been able to come forward and take the first step to bring back the hours in the mines to what they ought to have been all along.

The Prime Minister, in speaking on the Second Heading, expressed the view that no industry in this country ought to be allowed by the State to subsist on wages which are below a decent level, and that the State under those conditions ought to intervene by legislation and see that a decent wage was made payable by the action of the community. I entirely agree with that view, and the only difference that has arisen between those who sit on that side and us, is that it seemed to us when the Bill was first introduced, that the result would be an increase in the cost of coal to consumers as a whole. We are hoping that the Bill, as amended as a result of discussions that have taken place, will mean hardly an appreciable increase, if there is any at all— [Laughter.] At any rate, that is the view we hold. We hope that there will be no increase, but, if there be a small one, the miners are entitled to it. I am very glad that this piece of justice to the miners is going to be carried out, and I hope that not very far from now the Government will be able, as a- result of their negotiations at the League of Nations, to reach an international basis to bring not only the hours of miners here, but the hours of miners who are their comrades and colleagues all over the world, to the same times and standard.

Photo of Mr Thomas Cape Mr Thomas Cape , Workington

I regret that the Debate was brought down to such a low level by the statement of an hon. Member who spoke from the Opposition Bench. He spoke about certain letters which he had received from the north of England in regard to certain conditions that were prevailing, with the consent of the miners' leaders of that particular locality. That statement cast a reflection on the whole of the miners' representatives who come from the north of England. I represent a district in one of the northern counties, and I am not only Member for that area, but the general secretary of the union, and we have not in any way ever sanctioned any breaches of the law as described by the hon. Member. Therefore, it cannot apply to that particular county, which is a small county, but nevertheless very important. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home) surprised me when he commenced his speech in moving the Amendment. He began by making us believe that he was going to do something for the benefit of the miners, and immediately he assumed that air, my mind went back to his attitude and actions in 1926 when, sitting below the Gangway on this side, on every possible occasion when he could get an opportunity, he put up a strong case in justification of the miners having to work an eight-hour day. He said to-night that, if he found the miners' Members were opposed to his Amendment, he should consider withdrawing it.

Photo of Sir Robert Horne Sir Robert Horne , Glasgow Hillhead

If the hon. Member appeals to me, I had better say what I meant. I was not referring to the main part of the Amendment, but to the part which deals with the Saturday afternoon, and I said that if the miners did not want this facility—not the miners' Members—I would not press it. I have still to learn that they do not want it.

Photo of Mr Thomas Cape Mr Thomas Cape , Workington

Every miners' Member is bitterly opposed to the Amendment, and we are speaking not only for the political section of the industry, but also for the industrial section, and neither the right hon. and learned Gentleman nor any of his friends have shown that there is any body of opinion in favour of the Amendment. One hon. Member has referred to a letter sent to him, and the right hon. Gentleman referred to some resolution that was passed by some small branch of a miners' organisation somewhere in Wales. What evidence does the right hon. and learned Gentleman want to indicate to him that the miners do not want the terms of the Amendment? If the whole volume of the miners' voice could be heard against this Amendment, I suggest that that would not induce the right hon. and learned Gentleman to withdraw it, because he has made up his mind that he is going to oppose the passage of this Bill at every stage. If he is so anxious to give the miners a short day on Saturdays his brain power is sufficiently acute to find words to put in this Bill to make it possible for the miners to work five days of seven and a-half hours and a short day on Saturday. I venture to say that he has no such idea in his mind at all.

A good deal has been made of the Resolution passed at Geneva. We find that the representative of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain spoke vehemently against that Resolution, and the British representative voted against it. I suggest, therefore, that the statements about that Resolution ought to have no effect on the House at all. Another point made by the right hon. Gentleman was that the introduction of machinery into the mines caused a necessity for an increase of the hours of labour in the mines. The argument, carried to its logical conclusion, is that the more machinery that is introduced into the mines, the longer the men would be required to work. We hold a different view from that. We hope that the more machinery that is introduced, the less hours men will have to work. If that is not going to be so the introduction of machinery will not be any advantage to the men.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham) made a statement about men working under nude conditions in some of the mines of this country. I can speak as one who had experience of that state of affairs for many years. The last colliery I ever worked in was in Whitehaven, and there all the miners in those collieries were absolutely nude except for a small bathing dress round the loins—with shoes or stockings or clogs. That is not hearsay. I myself did seven years under those conditions. Therefore, I know perfectly well that any miner in the larger portion of the mines of this country who does seven hours is an exhausted man long before the seven hours has expired.

The hours of miners are getting consideration nowadays, are being investigated by the Mining Research Board. Why is all that being done, and why are we getting these medical reports with regard to the health of miners, if there is not a belief that the long hours of work and the conditions under which they work are sapping the health of the miners? An hon. Member talked about sympathy. We do not want sympathy; the only thing we want is justice, and that is all we are asking for. Hon. Members opposite have tried to convince the House that the passing of the eight hours legislation in 1926 brought some prosperity to the industry. If they will look at the figures of wages, the number of men employed and the continuity of work in the mining industry prior to 1926, they will find that in all respects conditions were considerably better than in 1929. That shows that the measures taken by the late Government did not do anything tangible for the benefit of the miners or the industry. We believe that when this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament it will be one of the first steps of any consequence towards solving the problem which now confronts the mining industry.

Photo of Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame , Hendon

Whatever view may be taken as to the merits of this Amendment, I think the Committee feel under a real debt of gratitude to my right hon. Friend the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home) for having devised it, in the end, in a form which has enabled us to have one of the most important discussions I can remember in this House and one of the best informed. In this general discussion we have covered everything that is relevant to the Clause. If we had been forced to consider this Clause without being able to discuss this enormously important alternative, the Committee would have stultified themselves. Fortunately, we have been able to take this discussion both on the merits of the right hon. Gentleman's proposal and on the counter-merits of the alternative which we put forward, and hon. Members on all sides of the House have spoken not only with great sincerity but with a wealth of experience. As they have spoken with experience, each giving his personal experience, from a different standpoint, perhaps, from that of his fellows, it now falls to the Committee, in the light of that varied experience, to take a decision which is not a sectional decision but a decision which should be in accordance with the interests not only of the industry but of the community as a whole. I am sure that when a vote is taken or this question, we shall give our votes as Members representing all sections of the community.

The question which we are considering divides itself into two parts. With regard to the second part, I shall have very little to say, because it merely proposes that the miners may go to work earlier on Saturday mornings in order to get off a little earlier on Saturday afternoons. I do not think that anyone will argue that that is a matter in which a principle is involved, and it must be purely a matter of convenience. I should have thought that it would have been a matter of local arrangement. I am certain that if the proposal were made that the House of Commons should sit for an extra hour on Thursday night up to twelve o'clock and not meet until twelve o'clock on Friday, instead of eleven o'clock, the keenest protesters would be those who sometimes travel north by the 5.30 train from King's Cross. In the question we are considering, there is no point which interferes with any of our principles, and I think we might leave these matters to the convenience of the different pits in the country.

The real issue which is before the House to-night is that raised in the first part of the Amendment, namely, whether under the seven and a-half hours day there shall be an opportunity by agreement to spread that number of hours over a fortnight provided the "aggregate statutory number of hours is not exceeded. When we come to consider this vital matter, I think it will be agreed that there is no question which will arise under this Bill that is more important. Parliament has to consider this proposal, not only from the point of view of the miners, but also from the point of view of the whole industry. And because the coal industry is a basic industry affecting every other industry in this country, and, not only that, but every home in this country as well. We have to consider this question, not only from the point of view of the miner or the coal industry alone, but we have to consider it also from the point of view of the general interests of this country. I think it will be agreed on all hands that our common desire, whether by Act of Parliament or concerted action, is to provide that the miners' hours should be the shortest which the industry itself can stand with due regard to the interests of the general public. That, I think, is common ground.

There is another matter which is equally common ground, and that is that the proposals which the right hon. Gentleman is making to the House in this Clause will add materially to the working costs of the industry. I am not concerned to argue whether the figure of 1s. 6d. is a peak figure or not. It is common ground that any reduction, or at any rate the compulsory reduction which he proposes of half an hour on every day, is bound greatly to increase the costs. If proof were needed of that, it is only necessary to look at the change in working costs which took place in this industry as between the early part of 1926 and the passage of the Act which has been so much challenged to-night, which enabled the industry to work eight hours.

In the March quarter of 1926, when a seven-hour day was being worked, the total cost per ton of coal commercially disposable was 17s. 2d. for the whole of Great Britain, and 19s. 9d. for South Wales. If time permitted I could give the comparative costs in all the districts, but I take the country as a whole, and I take the largest of all the areas, with a great export market, and the one which, I think, is likely to be more affected than any other by these proposals. In the March quarter of 1929, which is the most recent corresponding quarter that we can take, the costs in Great Britain had fallen from 17s. 2d. to 13s. 3d. a ton, and the costs in South Wales had fallen from 19s. 9d. to 14s. 7d. a ton. That means that for Great Britain as a whole there was a fall of 3s. 11d. a ton in working costs, while in South Wales there was a fall of 5s. 2d. a ton.

That was not all, by any means, at the expense of the miner. It has been said to-night that all this has been done at the expense of the miner, but that is not right. I am giving the Board of Trade figures from the same source as those taken by the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham). It will be remembered that in 1926 there was the subvention in aid of wages, and, of course, wages would have been very different then but for the subvention. Even so, with the subvention, in the March quarter of 1926, wages in Great Britain were 10s. 4¾d., and in South Wales 10s. 9d., while in the March quarter of 1929, when the industry had no subvention to assist it—and many will remember that the subvention was as high as 4s. a ton in some districts—in the March quarter of last year, when there was no subvention at all, the wages had fallen to 9s. 2¾d. for Great Britain and 9s. 4d. for South Wales. That is a fall of 1s. 2d. over the whole country and of 1s. 4¾d. in South Wales. Even with the subvention gone, therefore, the saving which had been effected in costs other than wages was 2s. 9d. a ton for Great Britain, and 3s. 9d. for South Wales.

Of course, the result of that was very largely to increase trade, and there were 10,000,000 tons extra of exports, which, as I reminded hon. Members on the last occasion, has been achieved under that Eight Hours Act. Therefore, let there be no doubt that that Act reduced costs enormously, above and beyond any reduction which took place in wages, and any variation of that Act, as, indeed, is admitted, must have a very serious effect on the costs of production. That is not denied by the President of the Board of Trade. He says with perfect frankness, and he has been very frank with the House on this point throughout, that this extra cost is going to be made up out of Part I; and the Secretary for Mines, I understand—I am very sorry that I missed his speech; I wanted particularly to hear it, but I understood that he was going to speak later in the Debate—said, we shall get the money from where it may be. We all know where it may be. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander), who is the latest recruit, as I gather, to the party opposite—whatever may be the precise value and effect of the deal, or agreement, which has been made between the right hon. Gentleman and hon. Members below the Gangway, apparently there is one hon. Member who is anxious to volunteer—all honour to him—to honour that agreement in the spirit as well as in the letter—readily ranged himself by the side of the President of the Board of Trade and said the extra cost to the consumer might not be very great and, whatever it was, the mining industry was well entitled to it. That is a perfectly intelligible point of view and one which will be most heartily welcomed by hon. Members opposite.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

I certainly never said" whatever it was." My point was that there might be a small increase and that the industry was entitled to it.

Photo of Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame , Hendon

I hope the hon. Member will not reduce the measure of his support, but he obviously takes a very different view from that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), who by a process of arithmetic informed the House on the Second Beading that he was going to oppose the Bill, because it was going to add 3s. 6d. a ton to the cost to the consumer.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

The Bill as originally introduced very likely would, as my leader argued, have increased the cost of coal. My point was that the Bill, as amended by our Amendments, as agreed by the Government, will not have that effect at all.

Photo of Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame , Hendon

This is profoundly interesting, because we really now have some light thrown on the subject which has hitherto been entirely obscured from the House. The President of the Board of Trade informed us that he was going to make no variations in the Bill, that the new Clause stood as he put it on the Paper and that Part I, the foundation of the Bill, was to stand essentially as it was.

Photo of Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame , Hendon

The amalgamation Clause is to stand exactly as the right hon. Gentleman put it on the Paper.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

It was not in the Bill at all.

Photo of Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame , Hendon

Apparently, the hon. Member is in a more favoured position than any of his leaders, to whichever section of his party he belongs, because he has apparently made a deal entirely on his own which is entirely satisfactory to him. I only wonder when he attends his party meeting, on whichever day of the week it is, whether his intervention will be equally welcomed by the right hon. Gentleman' the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs. There is no doubt at all that this proposal of the right hon. Gentleman is bound to add to the cost, and that cost has to be paid for. It must be made up in one of two ways. It must be made up by an added price on coal sold at home or by an added price on coal sold abroad, or both. In fact there is no prospect whatever that we can get an increased price for the bulk of the coal which we sell abroad. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Runciman), who in this matter speaks with an authority which is unrivalled in this House, was very definite on that subject. I am sure he was right when he gave instances of the keen competition which our export coal trade is meeting to-day. I believe it is a fact, and the right hon. Gentleman probably knows it—I heard it, I am bound to say, with surprise the other day—that the United States of America are beginning to sell coal in Italy. It is a very sinister symptom if to the enormous and excessive potential production of the Continental countries is to he added exports, and dumped exports no doubt, from the United States of America, which can quite easily produce another 100,000,000 tons of coal or more in a year, and we are going in the future to have to meet not less but more competition in our export trade.

I believe—and I am not quoting my own opinion but the opinion expressed to me by some of those who have the largest experience in the export market—that it is very doubtful whether the, prices which we are obtaining to-day in our export market can hold. If that be true, undoubtedly the extra cost has to come on the coal which is sold at home. It, therefore, becomes of vital importance to every consumer of coal in this country, be it the domestic consumer or be it the industrial consumer, to see in any Measure which is passed to improve the working hours of the miner, that that should be done, if it can reasonably and fairly be done, with the least possible disadvantage to the coal trade, and with the least possible addition to its cost. There is no doubt whatever that as between the two proposals, the proposal of the President of the Board, that you should have an absolutely flat, inelastic compulsory seven and a-half hours each day, and the elastic proposal of my right hon. Friend that there should be a chance by agreement of averaging out over a fortnight, the proposal of the President of the Board of Trade would be far more costly to the industry and to the country than the alternative which we put forward.

What is more—and there is no doubt whatever about this—as the industry progresses and develops more mechanical working, as more coal cutters are introduced, the more true this will become, because it is just in those pits where coal-cutting machinery is most used that this proposal of my right hon. Friend will be most economic. Therefore, it is absolutely plain that this alternative proposal is clearly in the interests of the mining industry as an industry. It is plainly in the interests of the country as a whole, because if it is going to cost the industry less, it is going to cost us less. We, the third estate—[Interruption]—


Why need we have all this piffle?

Photo of Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame , Hendon

A large number of hon. Members have spoken from the opposite side of the House and have been listened to without interruption. I have heard practically the whole of this Debate, and I intend to hear all the Debates. I intend also to show absolute courtesy to hon. Members opposite, and I expect to be treated with ordinary courtesy. It is very plain that this averaging proposal is in the interests of the industry and in the interests of the public as a whole, and we have a right to ask that the proposal shall be adopted rather than the rigid proposal of the President of the Board of Trade, unless it can be shown that it will inflict a serious hardship upon the miners.

Photo of Mr John Potts Mr John Potts , Barnsley

So it does. [Interruption.]


No useful purpose is served by needless interruption. So far the Debate has been conducted in a creditable manner. I hope that hon. Members will not interrupt.

Photo of Mr Joseph Batey Mr Joseph Batey , Spennymoor

We did not say very much.

Photo of Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame , Hendon

If the miners or any other workers are asked whether they would prefer to work the existing hours and keep the wages as they are or have less hours and take lower wages, I do not believe that there is a single miner who would desire to have lower wages and shorter hours. I am certain—indeed it has been said by several speakers—that there is nothing novel about the free Saturday. They have had it before. Therefore, that undoubtedly is popular in many quarters. The alternative which is offered is not an increase in hours. What is offered is exactly the same number of hours per week as the President of the Board of Trade is proposing, but giving a certain elasticity in aggregating the hours. It is certain that the miners will have a far better chance of keeping wages as they are by the adoption of our proposal.

Only one argument has been advanced against the proposal, namely, if I may use a slang expression, the fear that the miners may be jockeyed in making an agreement, if our proposal takes effect. It is not proposed to give the coalowner a right in this matter. This alternative provision is to apply only where there is agreement between both sides. Is there much chance of the miner being jockeyed? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"] I have had a good many negotiations, and I have found the miners just about as competent and as tenacious negotiators as any set of men I have over known. I was very glad to hear the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Duncan Graham) say: "We can discuss our difficulties with the coalowners in a perfectly friendly manner." Unless the real spirit in this or any other industry is that matters which ought to be settled by agreement are going to be settled frankly by agreement, and that no party is going to try to jockey the other, industry is going to become hopeless. So far as the day-wage man is concerned, the fear has been entertained that he might be put in a position where he would work one day less and also get one day's wage less, but surely that is a matter for agreement. Before an agreement is made in a district, or a pit, to take advantage of this Amendment the miners, whether they are piece-workers or day workers, will take good care to see that they get an equivalent in value in any arrangement that is made.

I beg the Committee not to close the door upon the future. Many hon. Members who to-day say that the miners do not want the Amendment might, in six months' time, give their eyes to have the advantages which the Amendment offers. I beg the Committee not to close the door upon the future at home. It might be vital to the mining industry to have this alternative power at home; and I beg the President of the Board of Trade not to close the door on negotiations which he is bound to undertake abroad. The future of this industry, hours and wages, must come by international agreement. The right hon. Gentleman knows, from his negotiations and the Resolution passed at Geneva, that the only way to get international agreement is by the kind of arrangement proposed by the Amendment, that is an aggregate number of hours to be worked, with a power of averaging. Do not let him close the door on the success of the negotiations into which he is going at Geneva in a few months' time. The right hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Hartshorn) addressed a most eloquent plea to the Committee to treat the miners with consideration. The country is prepared to treat the miners with consideration, but the country is profoundly uneasy about this Bill. Let hon. Members make no mistake about that; and its suspicions will not be lessened if the Amendment is not passed. I make this plea in all sincerity to those who have spoken on behalf of the miners, that they will get a much better hearing in the country and make a much more potent appeal to public sympathy if they slate their case in a reasonable and practical way.

Photo of Mr William Graham Mr William Graham , Edinburgh Central

I understand that a Division will be taken on this Amendment, and I respectfully suggest that the Committee might divide now.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 197; Noes, 292.

Division No. 144.]AYES.[10.50 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelAtholl, Duchess ofBellairs, Commander Carlyon
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. CharlesAtkinson, C.Berry, Sir George
Albery, Irving JamesBaillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman
Allen, Sir J. Sandentan (Liverp'l., W.)Balfour, George (Hampstead)Bird, Ernest Roy
Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.)Balfour, Captain H. H. (I of Thanet)Boothby, R. J. G.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.Balniel, LordBourne, Captain Robert Croft
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)Beaumont, M. W.Boyce, H. L.
Bracken, B.Greene, W. P. CrawfordPeto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Braithwaite, Major A. N.Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)Pownall, Sir Assheton
Briscoe, Richard GeorgeGretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. JohnPreston, Sir Walter Rueben
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.Purbrick, R.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)Gunston, Captain D. W.Ramsbotham, H.
Buchan, JohnHacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.Reid, David D. (County Down)
Buckingham, Sir H.Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)Remer, John R.
Bullock, Captain MalcolmHannon, Patrick Joseph HenryRentoul, Sir Gervais S.
Butler, R. A.Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Butt, Sir AlfredHerbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Cadogan, Major Hon. EdwardHills, Major Rt. Hon. John WallerRodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Carver, Major W. H.Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.Roes, Major Ronald D.
Castle Stewart, Earl ofHorne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.
Cautley, Sir Henry S.Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N,)Salmon, Major I.
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)Hurd, Percy A.Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Cazalet, Captain Victor A.Hurst, Sir Gerald B.Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonIveagh, Countess ofSavery, S. S.
Chamberlain, Rt. H n. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. CuthbertSimms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)
Christle, J. A.Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)Skelton, A. N.
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir GeorgeKindersley, Major G. M.Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Cohen, Major J. BruneiKing, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, c.)
Colman, N. C. D.Knox, Sir AlfredSmith-Carington, Neville W.
Colville, Major D. J.Lamb, Sir J. Q.Smithers, Waldron
Conway, Sir w. MartinLane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.Somerset, Thomas
Courtauld, Major J. S.Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.Leighton, Major B. E. P.Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)Little, Dr. E. GrahamStewart, W. J. (Belfast South)
Croom-Johnson, R. P.Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. GodfreyStuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)Long, Major EricSueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir PhilipLymlngton, ViscountThomson, Sir F.
Dalkeith, Earl ofMacquisten, F. A.Tinne, J. A.
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)MacRobert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M.Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)Todd, Capt. A. J.
Davies, Dr. VernonMakins, Brigadier-General E.Train, J.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)Margesson, Captain H. D.Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)Marjoribanks, E. C.Turton, Robert Hugh
Dawson, Sir PhilipMason, Colonel Glyn K.Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Dugdale, Capt. T. L.Meller, R. J.Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Eden, Captain AnthonyMerriman, Sir F. BoydWardlaw-Milne, J. S.
Edmondson, Major A. J.Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)Warrender, Sir Victor
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Everard, W. LindsayMond, Hon. HenryWayland, Sir William A.
Falle, Sir Bertram G.Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.Wells, Sydney R.
Ferguson, Sir JohnMoore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Fermoy, LordMoore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Fielden, E. B.Muirhead, A. J.Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Fison, F. G. ClaverlngNewton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Ford, Sir P. J.Nicholson, O. (Westminster)Withers, Sir John James
Forestier-Walker, Sir t.Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Oman, Sir Charles William C.Womersley, W. J.
Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew HamiltonO'Neill, Sir H.Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Gibson, C G. (Pudsey & Otley)Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Glyn, Major R. G. C.Peake, Capt. OsbertTELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Gower, Sir RobertPenny, Sir GeorgeCaptain Sir George Bowyer and
Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)Captain Wallace.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Bowen, J. W.Cocks, Frederick Seymour
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Compton, Joseph
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. ChristopherBroad, Francis AlfredCove, William G.
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M.Bromfield, WilliamDaggar, George
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')Bromley, J.Dallas, George
Alpass, J. H.Brooke, W.Dalton, Hugh
Ammon, Charles GeorgeBrothers, M.Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)
Angell, NormanBrown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)
Arnott, JohnBrown, Ernest (Leith)Denman, Hon. R. D.
Aske, Sir RobertBrown, James (Ayr and Bute)Dickson, T.
Ayles, WalterBuchanan, G.Dudgeon, Major C. R.
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)Burgess, F. G.Dukes, C.
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)Burgin, Dr. E. L.Duncan, Charles
Barnes, Alfred JohnBuxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)Ede, James Chuter
Batey, JosephBuxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.)Edge, Sir William
Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)Caine, Derwent Hall-Edmunds, J. E.
Benn, Rt. Hon. WedgwoodCameron, A. G.Edwards, E. (Morpeth)
Bennett, Capt. E. N. (Cardiff, Central)Cape, ThomasEgan, W. H.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South)Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)
Benson, G.Charleton, H. C.Foot, Isaac
Bentham, Dr. EthelChater, DanielForgan, Dr. Robert
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)Church, Major A. G.Freeman, Peter
Birkett, W. NormanClarke, J. S.Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)
Blindell, JamesCluse, W. S.George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)Lowth, ThomasSanders, W. S.
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)Lunn, WilliamSandham, E.
Gibbins, JosephMacdonald, Gordon (Ince)Sawyer, G. F.
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)Scrymgeour, E.
Gill, T. H.MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)Scurr, John
Gillett, George M.McElwee, A.Sexton, James
Glassey, A. E.McEntee, V. L.Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Gossling, A. G.McKinlay, A.Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Gould, F.Mac Laren, AndrewShepherd, Arthur Lewis
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)Sherwood, G. H.
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)MacNeill-Weir, L.Shield, George William
Gray, MilnerMcShane, John JamesShiels, Dr. Drummond
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)Shillaker, J. F.
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro'W.)Mander, Geoffrey le M.Shinwell, E.
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Mansfield, W.Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Groves, Thomas E.March, S.Simmons, C. J.
Grundy, Thomas W.Marcus, M.Sinkinson, George
Hall, F. (York. W. R., Normanton)Markham, S. F.Sitch, Charles H.
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)Marley, J.Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)
Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)Mathers, GeorgeSmith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)Matters, L. W.Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Hardie, George D.Maxton, JamesSmith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Harris, Percy A.Melville, Sir JamesSmith, Tom (Pontefract)
Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. VernonMesser, FredSmith, W. R. (Norwich)
Hastings, Dr. SomervilleMillar, J. D.Snell, Harry
Haycock, A. W.Mills, J. E.Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Hayday, ArthurMilner, J.Sorensen, R.
Hayes, John HenryMontague, FrederickStamford, Thomas W.
Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)Morgan, Dr. H. B.Stephen, Campbell
Henderson, Arthur, junr. (Cardiff, S.)Morley, RalphStewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)Morris, Rhys HopkinsStrachey, E. J. St. Loe
Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)Strauss, G. R.
Herriotts, J.Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)Sullivan, J.
Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)Sutton, J. E.
Hoffman, P. C.Mort, D. L.Taylor R. A. (Lincoln)
Hollins, A.Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)
Hopkin, DanielMosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Hore-Belisha, LeslieMuff, G.Thurtle, Ernest
Horrabin, J. F.Muggeridge, H. T.Tinker, John Joseph
Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)Murnin, HughToole, Joseph
Hunter, Dr. JosephNathan, Major H. L.Tout, W. J.
Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.Naylor, T. E.Townend, A. E.
Isaacs, GeorgeNewman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles.
Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)Noel Baker, P. J.Turner, B.
Johnston, ThomasOldfield, J. R.Vaughan, D. J.
Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)Oliver, George Harold (likeston)Viant, S. P.
Jones, Rt. Hon Leif (Camborne)Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)Walker, J.
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)Wallace, H. W.
Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)Owen, H. F. (Hereford)Wallhead, Richard C.
Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.Palin, John HenryWalters, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Tudor
Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. APaling, WilfridWatkins, F. C.
Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)Palmer, E. T.Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline).
Kelly, W. T.Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)Wellock, Wilfred
Kennedy, ThomasPerry, S. F.Welsh, James (Paisley)
Kinley, J.Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Kirkwood, D.Phillips, Dr. MarionWest, F. R.
Knight, HolfordPicton-Turbervill, EdithWestwood, Joseph
Lang, GordonPole, Major D. G.Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Lansbury, Rt. Hon. GeorgePotts, John S.Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Lathan, G.Price, M. P.Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Law, Albert (Bolton)Pybus, Percy JohnWilliams, David (Swansea, East)
Law, A. (Rossendale)Quibell, D. J. K.Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Lawrence, SusanRamsay, T. B. WilsonWilliams, T. (York Don Valley)
Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)Raynes, W. R.Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Lawson, John JamesRichards, R.Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Leach, W.Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)Wise, E. F.
Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)Ritson, J.Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)Romeril, H. G.Wright, W. (Rutherglen)
Lees, J.Rosbotham, D. S. T.Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Lewis, T. (Southampton)Rowson, Guy
Lindley, Fred W.Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Logan, David GilbertSalter, Dr. AlfredMr. Whiteley and Mr. Charles
Longden, F.Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)Edwards.
Lovat-Fraser, J. A.Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)

Amendment made: In page 13, line 34, leave out from the word "operation," to the end of the Clause, and insert instead thereof the words "at the expiration of the period of four months from the passing of this Act."—[Mr. W. Graham.]

Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 295; Noes, 198.

Division No. 145.]AYES.[11.1 p.m.
Adamson, Ht. Hon. w. (Fife, West)Grenfell, D. R, (Glamorgan)Marley, J.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)Mathers, George
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. ChristopherGriffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Matters, L. W.
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M.Groves, Thomas E.Maxton, James
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')Grundy, Thomas W.Melville, Sir James
Alpass, J. H.Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)Messer, Fred
Ammon, Charles GeorgeHall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)Millar, J. D.
Angell, NormanHall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)Mills, J. E.
Arnott, JohnHamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)Milner, J.
Aske, Sir RobertHardie, George D.Montague, Frederick
Ayles, WalterHarris, Percy A.Morgan Dr. H. B.
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. VernonMorley, Ralph
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)Hastings, Dr. SomervilleMorris, Rhys Hopkins
Barnes, Alfred JohnHaycock, A. W.Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Batey, JosephHayday, ArthurMorrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)
Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)Hayes, John HenryMorrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)
Benn, Rt. Hon. WedgwoodHenderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)Mort, D. L.
Bennett, Capt. E. N. (Cardiff, Central)Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)
Bennett, William (Battersea, South)Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)
Benson, G.Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)Muff, G.
Bentham, Dr. EthelHerriotts, J.Muggeridge, H. T.
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)Murnin, Hugh
Birkett, W. NormanHoffman, P. C.Nathan, Major H. L.
Blindell, JamesHollins, A.Naylor, T. E.
Bowen, J. W.Hopkin, DanielNewman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Hore-Belisha, LeslieNoel Baker, P. J.
Broad, Francis AlfredHorrabin, J. F.Oldfield, J. R.
Bromfield, WilliamHudson, James H. (Huddersfield)Oliver, George Harold ([...]keston)
Bromley, J.Hunter, Dr. JosephOliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)
Brooke, W.Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)
Brothers, M.Isaacs, GeorgeOwen, H. F. (Hereford)
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)Palin, John Henry
Brown, Ernest (Leith)Johnston, ThomasPaling, Wilfrid
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)Palmer, E. T.
Buchanan, G.Jones, Rt. Hon Leif (Camborne)Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Burgess, F. G.Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Perry, S. F.
Burgin, Dr. E. L.Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)Pethick-Lawrence, F. w.
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.Phillips, Dr. Marion
Caine, Derwent Hall-Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.Picton-Turbervill, Edith
Cameron, A. G.Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)Pole, Major D. G.
Cape, ThomasKelly, W. T.Potts, John S.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)Kennedy, ThomasPrice, M. P.
Charleton, H. C.Kinley, J.Pybus, Percy John
Chater, DanielKirkwood, D.Quibell, D. J. K.
Church, Major A. G.Knight, HolfordRamsay, T. B. Wilson
Clarke, J. S.Lang, GordonRaynes, W. R.
Cluse, W. S.Lansbury, Rt. Hon. GeorgeRichards, R.
Cocks, Frederick SeymourLathan, G.Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Compton, JosephLaw, Albert (Bolton)Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Cove, William G.Law, A. (Rossendale)Ritson, J.
Daggar, GeorgeLawrence, SusanRomeril, H. G.
Dallas, GeorgeLawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Dalton, HughLawson, John JamesRowson, Guy
Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Leach, W.Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Denman, Hon. R. D.Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)Salter, Dr. Alfred
Dickson, T.Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Dudgeon, Major C. R.Lees, J.Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)
Dukes, C.Lewis, T. (Southampton)Sanders, W. S.
Duncan, CharlesLindley, Fred W.Sandham, E.
Ede, James ChuterLogan, David GilbertSawyer, G. F.
Edge, Sir WilliamLongbottom, A. W.Scrymgeour, E.
Edmunds, J. E.Longden, F.Scurr, John
Edwards, E. (Morpeth)Lovat-Fraser, J. A.Sexton, James
Egan, W. H.Lowth, ThomasShakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)Lunn, WilliamShaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Foot, IsaacMacdonald, Gordon (Ince)Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Forgan, Dr. RobertMacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)Sherwood, G. H.
Freeman, PeterMacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)Shield, George William
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)McElwee, A.Shiels, Dr. Drummond
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn)McEntee, V. L.Shillaker, J. F.
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)McKinlay, A.Shinwell, E.
George, Meqan Lloyd (Anglesea)MacLaren, AndrewShort, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Gibbins, JosephMaclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)Simmons, C. J.
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs. Mossley)Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Gill, T. H.MacNeill-Weir, L.Sinkinson, George
Gillett, George M.McShane, John JamesSitch, Charles H.
Glassey, A. E.Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)
Gossling, A. G.Mander, Geoffrey le M.Smith, Ben (Bermohdsey, Rotherhithe)
Gould, F.Mansfield, W.Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)March, S.Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)Marcus, M.Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Gray, MilnerMarkham, S. F.Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Snell, HarryTownend, A. E.Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Snowden, Rt. Hon. PhilipTrevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir CharlesWilkinson, Ellen C.
Sorensen, R.Turner, B.Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Stamford, Thomas W.Vaughan, D. J.Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Stephen, CampbellViant, S. P.Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)Walker, J.Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Strachey, E. J. St. LoeWallace, H. W.Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Strauss, G. R.Wallhead, Richard C.Wilson R. J. (Jarrow)
Sullivan, J.Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir J. TudorWise, E. F.
Sutton, J. E.Watkins, F. C.Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)Wright, W. (Rutherglen)
Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)Wellock, WilfredYoung, R. S. (Islington, North)
Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)Welsh, James (Paisley)
Thurtle, ErnestWelsh, James C. (Coatbridge)TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Tinker, John JosephWest, F. R.Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.
Toole, JosephWestwood, JosephWhiteley.
Tout, W. J.Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelDavies, Dr. VernonMitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. CharlesDavies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Albery, Irving JamesDavison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)Mond, Hon. Henry
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)Dawson, Sir PhilipMonsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon Sir B.
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)Dugdale, Capt. T. L.Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)
Allen, W. E. O. (Belfast, W.)Eden, Captain AnthonyMuirhead, A. J.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.Edmondson, Major A. J.Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston s.-M.)Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)Everard, W. LindsayNicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)
Atholl, Duchess ofFalle, Sir Bertram G.Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Atkinson, C.Ferguson, Sir JohnO'Neill, Sir H.
Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.Fermoy, LordOrmsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)Fielden, E. B.Peake, Capt. Osbert
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Fison, F. G. ClaveringPercy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)Ford, Sir P. J.Poto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Balniel, LordForestler-Walker, Sir L.Power, Sir John Cecil
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Pownall, Sir Assheton
Beaumont, Mr. W.Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew HamiltonPreston, Sir Walter Rueben
Bellairs, Commander CarlyonGibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)Purbrick, R.
Berry, Sir GeorgeGlyn, Major R. G. C.Ramsbotham, H.
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)Gower, Sir RobertReid, David D. (County Down)
Birchall, Major Sir John DearmanGrattan-Doyle, Sir N.Remer, John R.
Bird, Ernest RoyGreene, W. P. CrawfordRentoul, Sir Gervais S.
Boothby, R. J. G.Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Bourne, Captain Robert CroftGretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. JohnRoberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Bowater, Col. Sir T. VansittartGuinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Boyce, H. L.Gunston, Captain D. W.Ross, Major Ronald D.
Bracken, B.Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.
Braithwaite, Major A. N.Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Briscoe, Richard GeorgeHannon, Patrick Joseph HenrySalmon, Major I.
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Buchan, JohnHills, Major Rt. Hon. John WallerSavery, S. S.
Buckingham, Sir H.Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.Skelton, A. N.
Bullock, Captain MalcolmHome, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Butler, R. A.Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Butt, Sir AlfredHudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Cadogan, Major Hon. EdwardHurd, Percy A.Smithers, Waldron
Carver, Major W. H.Hurst, Sir Gerald B.Somerset, Thomas
Castle Stewart, Earl ofIveagh, Countess ofSomerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Cautley, Sir Henry S.James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. CuthbertSomerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)Kindersley, Major G. M.Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Cazalet, Captain Victor A.King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)
Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonKnox, Sir AlfredStuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)Lamb, Sir J. Q.Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Christie, J. A.Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.Thomson, Sir F.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston SpencerLaw, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)Tinne, J. A.
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir GeorgeLeigh, Sir John (Clapham)Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Cohen, Major J. BrunelLeighton, Major B. E. P.Todd, Capt. A. J.
Colman, N. C. D.Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)Train, J.
Colville, Major D. J.Little, Dr. E. GrahamTryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Conway, Sir W. MartinLocker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. GodfreyTurton, Robert Hugh
Courtauld, Major J. S.Long, Major EricVaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.Lymington, ViscountWallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.Macquisten, F. A.Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.MacRobert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M.Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)Warrender, Sir Victor
Croom-Johnson, R. P.Makins, Brigadier-General E.Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)Margesson, Captain H. D.Wayland, Sir William A.
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir PhilipMarjoribanks, E. C.Wells, Sydney R.
Dalkeith, Earl ofMason, Colonel Glyn K.Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)Meller, R. J.Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.Merriman, Sir F. BoydWindsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Winterton, Rt. Hon. EarlWomersley, W. J.TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Withers, Sir John JamesWorthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.Captain Sir George Bowyer and
Wolmer, Rt. Hon. ViscountYoung, Rt. Hon. Sir HiltonSir George Penny.

It being after Eleven of the Clock, the CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Report to the House,

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.